Give cava and champagne Brut Reserva. Winery: Albet i Noya. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Variety: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Give wine Crianza Organic. Winery: Albet i Noya. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Variety: Merlot, Caladoc and Ull de Llebre.
Give wine Reserva Organic. Winery: Albet i Noya. D.O. Penedès. (Catalonia) Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot.
Following the topic of organic agriculture, Josep María Albet i Noya contacted the Danish company, and then with the association Vida Sana. At that time, there was no official body that regulated organic agriculture, and the Vida Sana association did carry out the relevant controls. Later on, he attended a biodynamic agriculture course by Kgell Arman, former Minister of Agriculture of the Swedish Government. Despite the reluctance of the family and local farmers, Josep Maria started to make wine in one of the farms that he had planted and grafted with Tempranillo vines. In the following years, the number of farms dedicated to organic farming gradually increased. In fact, it is a return to forms of cultivation inherited from traditional agriculture, since organic agriculture only accepts the use of green, organic and compound fertilisers that maintain the balance of the vine, providing healthy grapes, without residues and without altering the aromatic components of the fruit, their taste or their natural texture.
History of the winery
Albet i Noya is located in Can Vendrell de la Codina, in the municipality of Sant Pau d'Ordal. Although the origins of vine cultivations in Can Vendrell date back to the Middle Ages, it was not until 1903 when the Albet family settled on the farm. Joan Albet i Rovirosa went to Can Vendrell to replant the vines from the post-phylloxera period with American rootstocks, later grafted with the desired varieties. After the replanting work, he remained in charge of the 210 hectares of the farm, 90 hectares of which are dedicated to vine cultivation. Finally, there was the opportunity to buy the farm he had been working on for four generations. Since his father died in 1972, Josep Maria Albet i Noya became in charge of the farm, introducing organic cultivation. At the end of the decade, he started to make the first organic wines. With the success of this first organic wine, made exclusively for the Danish market, he increased the proportion of the farm devoted to organic cultivation. From here, he started to extend and continuously improve the facilities, and dedicate 100% of the land to organic agriculture.
The modern winery of Can Vendrell dates from 1925, and gathers the main winemaking tasks. The Xapallà winery opened in the summer of 2004. It houses the air-conditioned warehouse, the ageing room, and a new bottling line. The new winery of La Era was opened in 2010, to separately vinify the wines of the highest range, working by gravity.
They currently control 80.6 hectares dedicated to the cultivation of the vineyard. They also buy grapes from local farmers who have converted to organic farming, paying the best prices in Penedès and giving advice on cultivation to ensure the maximum quality of the grapes. The white varieties cultivated are Chardonnay (1.1 ha), Maccabeu (9.7 ha), Xarello (19.1 ha), Parellada (10.5 ha), Muscatel (0.4 ha), Viogner (1.5 ha), Sauvignon Blanc (0.3 ha), Riesling (1.5 ha), White Grenache (0.2 ha) and 4 more experimental varieties (0.8 ha). Las Red varieties are divided between Cabernet Sauvignon (10 ha), Tempranillo or Ull de llebre (8.3 ha), Merlot (5.4 ha), Syrah (6 ha), Red Grenache (2.2 ha), Pinot Noir ( 2.9 ha), plus 6 experimental varieties (0.8 ha). The vineyards cover the foothills of the west side of Sierra del Ordal, which is called Costers del Ordal, following the undulations of the land, and organised on terraces and slopes.
Like all vinegrowing soils, those of Can Vendrell are poor in organic matter with variable contents of clay and sand on a bed of calcareous stone. The soils are permeable but with good moisture retention capacity. Leaving aside the suitability of these soils for the cultivation of the vines, other factors contribute to define the specific implementation of the different types of vineyards, such as orientation, hours of sun exposure, humidity, and altitude. To optimise the quality of the 15 varieties cultivated in Can Vendrell, they chose the best lands for the ideal ripening of each of them. While the Xarello, Maccabeu and Parellada are varieties that have traditionally been planted in Penedès without interruption, the rest, which had been completely removed at the end of the 19th century with the phylloxera crisis and the increase of cava production, were reintroduced in Can Vendrell by the Albet family at the beginning of the 80s.
All the philosophy of work in the field focuses on the grape grown organically, with no residues and with the optimal health. If we also add a crop that seeks low yields, not only the quality is the priority. They also make organic cultivation more sustainable, since the vines are more resistant to possible pests. The regulations governing organic cultivation exclude all types of treatments with chemical and synthetic products (herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers). Therefore, instead of using chemical fertilisers, they use organic ones. The organic matter recycled from the composted winery waste, and the shredded branches of the vines, maintain the balance of the soil. Every autumn they plant a mixture of five grass types between the rows of vines. These provide a balance of nitrogen, carbon and cellulose.
These grass types are cut in spring and, after about fifteen days of composting, they are added to the soil as organic fertiliser. Although regulations still allow the use of copper sulphate —the traditional ‘Bordo Mix’ or ‘Bordeaux mixture’— (limiting the content to 4 kg of active material per hectare), in Can Vendrell they use copper hydroxide, which has a lower copper content and is more active at lower doses. Even so, at Albet i Noya they are increasingly replacing these treatments with biodynamic preparations based on sulphur clays, extracts of equisetum, nettles and seaweed. The usefulness of these preparations has been demonstrated not only in treatments against mildew, but also helps to prevent the appearance of botrytis. In the treatments against oidium, the use of sulfur is allowed, and depending on the time of year and the ambient temperature, they use treatments with liquid sulfur (in suspension), wet sulfur, or powdered sulphur. Organic agriculture fights cochylis with a treatment called sexual confusion on butterflies of Lobesia botrana and has collaborated in the largest implantation of some of the 17 species of bats that inhabit the area.
On the other hand, to ensure that the treatments reach the grapes, and their adequate ventilation and exposure to the sun, they perform green pruning to remove the extra shoots. Green pruning is also carried out to improve the quality of the grape. When they receive more sunlight, the skin of the grapes creates more pigments and, therefore, the wine will have more colour and more mature tannins. Finally, at the time of the harvest, they select the grapes when they are attached to the vine to ensure than only the healthiest ones enter the winery.
Also, Albet i Noya is permanently looking for new varieties and ways of working. They are currently experimenting with seven pre-phylloxera varieties with a plantation of 500 vines of each variety. They have looked for varieties that had survived naturally, indicating a high natural resistance to diseases.
Also in the winery, the organic regulations mainly affect mainly the use of sulphur, limiting the levels to half of what is used in traditional wineries. For this matter, at Albet i Noya they work with a level of hygiene that is far superior to that of a conventional winery. Since only healthy grapes enter the winery, Albet i Noya can afford to work without sulphur. The yeasts used in the winery are native to the vineyards of Albet i Noya, selected by them from the Xarello variety. They are working on the selection of other native yeasts for the remaining varieties. The fermentation deposits have an inert gas installation (a mixture of nitrogen with carbon) to prevent possible alterations in the wine. Also, the elements of the winery are cleaned with hot pressurised water (up to 90ºC), they do not use chemical products.
Wines from Albet i Noya
All wines made by Albet i Noya are controlled by CCPAE (Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecológica), which is a public control body attached to the General Subdirectorate of Agriculture of the Government of Catalonia. It is equipped with an inspection and certification body that is responsible for monitoring compliance with European regulation 2092/91 on organic production.
Albet i Noya currently produces a wide range of still wines, white, rosé and red, and also a complete line of sparkling wines, all under D.O. Penedès. Its base range is made up of young wines Petit Albert, both white and red, the first one made with Xarello, Maccabeu and Parellada, and the second with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Red Grenache. It is followed by the line Curiós, with two varietals, the white made with Xarello and the red, with Tempranillo, in addition to the rosé Curiosa made with Pinot Noir.
Within a range of more complex wines they have the brands Lignum, with a white and a red. The first one is made with Chardonnay, aged for 2 months in barrels, as well as Xarello and Sauvignon Blanc; the red wine is a coupage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Syrah and Ull de Llebre, aged in 225-litre Allier oak barrels for 12 months.
One of its outstanding white wines is El Fanio, a varietal of Xarello aged for 6 months on its lees, in oval-shaped porous cement deposits and acacia barrels. This wine is the fruit of a vineyard of 8 terraces and around two hectares, planted by the father of Manel Sarda, Epifanio Sarda ‘El Fanio’ in 1948. It is one of most unique vineyards of Costers de l'Ordal and Penedès. It is planted on small terraces of two or three rows, and treated with some biodynamic procedures to enhance its expression of the land. The grapes are vinified traditionally but to the limit, leaving them in contact with the lees for a few months in egg-shaped deposits made of clay with sands. These allow them to breathe, and thanks to their oval shape dynamises them natural, accentuating the mineral character provided by the soils of Costers de l’Ordal.
The winery also makes two other wines under the label Col·lecció, a varietal red wine made with Syrah aged for 14 months in barrels made of French oak from Allier, and a varietal white wine made with Chardonnay, aged for 8 months in new French oak barrels with the batonnage of its lees.
Another of its emblematic wines is Finca La Milana, which is born from 11 terraces with a total of 7 hectares around the current farmhouse of Can Milà de la Roca. Around 150 years ago, these vineyards were cultivated directly by Mr Milá's wife, hence the name of La Milana. This wine is a mixture of four varieties, Caladoc, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot which, in the right proportion that each of the vines yields, contribute to what we call a ‘vino de finca’ or single farm wine. This is probably why it has the maximum expression and the harmony of the place where they come from.
Another of the winery’s most exclusive wines is El Blanc XXV, a white wine made with the Viognier variety, along with Vidal and Marina Rión. This last one is an old grape variety that may be from the pre-phylloxera era, very interesting thanks to its good resistance to he most usual vine diseases, and thanks to its great aromatic and taste quality. Part of this wine is aged in barrels, and the other, in stainless steel deposits, always on its lees and with batonnage.
And finally, worth mentioning is Marti Reserve, which is a combination of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the oldest and most beautiful vineyards of the property, with 2 years of ageing in new 225-litre French oak barrels and three years in the bottle.
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