Nuria Altes, like many other young vintners in Spain, comes from a family who has grown grapes for generations. Tucked […]Keep Reading
Nuria Altes, like many other young vintners in Spain, comes from a family who has grown grapes for generations. Tucked away in a remote corner of Catalunya, Nuria’s new project, Herencia Altes is situated outside the village of Batea, in Terra Alta, a little known DO southwest of the Priorat. Remarkably Terra Alta is one of the largest wine growing regions in Cataluyna and one, of which few are aware – something Nuria has set about changing. Having grown up in the vines that her grandfather tended, Nuria has known these vineyards since her childhood and made the decision in 2010 to stop selling her fruit to the local cooperative and to instead make her own wines. In this project she is assisted by her partner Rafael de Haan and together they inaugurated a new cellar for the 2016 vintage located in her hometown of Batea.
Nuria farms 14 hectares of Garnacha Blanca Negre and Peluda, Carinyena (Samsó) and small amounts of Syrah primarily at two sites: La Serra and Benufet. Both vineyards were initially planted over a hundred years ago, and many of these old vines survive. Where vines have died over the intervening century, they have been replanted so each site is home to vines ranging in age from 20 to well over 100 years old. The soils around the village of Batea are referred to as Panal – a chalky and sandy topsoil over deep, clay-limestone all underpinned by limestone bedrock. Panal is naturally low in nutrients with a tremendous capacity for storing water which is important for the wines as the summers are warm and dry and almost always windy alternating between the continental Cirç and the easterly Garbi bringing in humidity from the Mediterranean. Terra Alta is so prone to these winds that in addition to growing grapes, the area is famous for windmills which generate much of the region’s electricity. At an elevation of 450 meters above sea level, La Serra and Benufet benefit from a higher elevation the most of the rest of the DO. This allows for full maturation of the grapes a lower alcohol levels and with higher acidities.
Harvest at Herencia Altes is carried out by hand starting with Garnatxa Blanca and the Garnatxa Negra intended for the rosat, followed by the older vine Garnatxa Negra and Peluda, Syrah and finally the Carinyena or Samsó. Each variety is brought to the cellar in small crates and chilled for 24 hours to prevent oxidation during fermentation. The whites see a short maceration before pressing while the reds are destemmed, crushed and fermented with regular punchdowns to keep the cap submerged. Multiple vinifications are made based on vineyard site, variety and vine age and are done in stainless steel tanks, concrete or oak vessels of varying size. Following fermentation the wines are aged in tank, cement, foudre or 300L French oak barrels with plans to introduce larger 500–600L demi-muids in the future, especially for the single vineyard cuvées.Close