Nuria Altés, like many young vintners in Spain, comes from a family who has grown grapes for generations. Tucked away […]Keep Reading
Nuria Altés, like many 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, Herència Altés, is situated outside the village of Batea, in the DO of Terra Alta. 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. Growing up among the vines that her grandfather tended, Nuria has known these vineyards since her childhood and decided in 2010 to start purchasing grapes from her father to make her own personal 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.
Since 2010, Rafa and Nuria have slowly grown their property from 14 to 60 hectares. They purchased their first vineyard, La Serra, in 2013, followed by Lo Grau and Xalamera in 2014 and 2015. Near the Garnacha’s birthplace in the neighboring province of Aragon, these sites are predominantly Garnatxa Blanca, Negra, and Gris, planted primarily between 1900 and 1960. Old vine Carinyena, locally called Samsó, is also present in their vineyards and small amounts of Syrah.
The soils around the village of Batea are referred to as Panal – chalky and sandy topsoil over deep, clay-limestone, all underpinned by limestone bedrock. Panal is naturally low in nutrients with a tremendous capacity to store 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. This part of Terra Alta is so prone to these two winds that the area is famous for windmills that generate much of the region’s electricity in addition to growing grapes. At elevations ranging between 390 and 480 meters above sea level, the vineyards of Herència-Altés benefit from a higher elevation the most of the rest of the DO. This allows for full maturation of the grapes at lower finished alcohol and higher acidity.
Harvest at Herència Altés 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 punch-downs 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 sizes. 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.