The D.O Alella is located in the vicinity of Barcelona between the sea and the mountains. The wines from this region are the product of small scale vineyards, hidden from the curious eyes of visitors. The vineyards and winemakers have over the years have fought admirably for their survival against the expansion of large luxury urban areas. Luckily they have been successful in their fight, and most of the vineyards in the DO Alella are located under protected areas. The wines here represent a blend between tradition and modernity, the countryside and the city, the sea and the mountains, and the side harmony that combines northern serenity and Mediterranean passion.
The DO Alella is one of the smallest and oldest wine producing regions on the Iberian Peninsula. At the archaeological site of Veral de Vallmora in Teià, a series of structures that documented winemaking during the first century to the fourth century AD were found, as well as inscriptions on a lead seals showing that the wine produced here were enjoyed by the families of Barcino. This story tells us that the Romans kept their amphorae of wine in Tiana, a town that was the capital of the region at that time, and from the Maresme, ships took wine to other cities across the Spanish Cantabrian Sea. There, along with other wines from other sources, they undertook the long journey to the Indies. However, this historical origin was not centered around the vineyards and Alella wines as we know them today, but in wines primarily reds made with Monastrell, which takes the name of Mataro, which occurred throughout the area of Maresme here and who they enjoyed great prestige at the time, being also the favorite of the canons of the Cathedral of Barcelona in medieval times.
After the outbreak phylloxera, most of the vineyards in the area were not replanted. In fact, only Alella was saved, thanks to a privileged situation and the lucidity of those who founded the Alella Vinicola cooperative in 1906, today known as Alella Vinicola. Their commercial vision focused on the Barcelona bourgeoisie in the area, without losing sight of what it would be and was for many years their best customer, increasingly powerful, and very near: Barcelona.
DO Alella was established in 1956, is located northeast of Spain, in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, just 15 km north of Barcelona. Currently just over about 220 hectares of vineyards are registered, with almost one hundred vintners accounted for and only 8 wineries. The vineyards are divided into two distinct areas: the Maresme, fronting on the Mediterranean, and the Vallès Oriental, located on the other side of the coastal mountain range.
Climate, soils and varieties
The area is home to a Mediterranean climate of the Central Coast variety. Annual rainfall ranges between 550 mm. y 800 mm, achieving the highest rainfall in the north and the Montnegre area, while the coastal towns in the south of the region experiences the least. As for the temperature, at an average of 8 ° C to 10 ° C winters are mild, as are summers with average temperatures between 22 ° C and 23 ° C, entailing a moderate annual thermal amplitude. The Vallés Oriental region presents a wide variety of natural landscapes close to cities, with the mild forms of the inland plains, full of small hills, valleys and ravines contrasting with the steep mountain cliffs and crags. The climate of the area differs depending on the area due to the terrain: with a central pre-coastel Mediterranean climate in the plains of the valley; northern pre-coastal Mediterranean climate in the Montseny Massif, and at the south by Moianès there is a Mediterranean Continental climate. The distribution of precipitation is also uneven, from 1200 mm to 600 mm with a scarce yearly total, except for the areas at the highest altitudes. As for the thermal regime, outside the mountain areas, summers are hot and winters are mild, with an average temperature of 14.5 °, but include frequent thermal inversions in the depression of Vallés, especially in winter.
In the Maresme region, the vast majority of vineyards are home to soils sandstone based soils, locally known as "sauló". The soils are sandy structure or sandy loam, easy to work, high porosity, airy, light-colored (almost white), with good drainage, high permeability, low levels of organic matter, little capacity to retain water and nutrients with a high silica content, and a slightly alkaline pH. In the area of Vallés Oriental, soils are generally clayey, slightly alkaline, and in areas of the littoral and highlands where the topography is more rugged, soils are granitic and clay at lower altitudes.
In relation to the grape varieties cultivated, the DO Alella authorizes no less than 20 varieties, including white and reds. Varieties cultivated include Pasa Blanca (Xarel·lo), Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Malvasia, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Parellada, Picapoll White, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. And as for the reds, the DO Alella authorises Grenache, but also authorizes the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Hairy Grenache, Merlot, Monastrell, Pinot Noir, Sansó or Mazuela, Sumoll Tinto, Syrah, Tempranillo and Ull de Llebre.
Wines and Wineries
The eight wineries in the DO Alella all have very different policies when it comes to cultivating their vineyards and the development of their wines. The good news is that almost all the wineries practise, to a certain extent, organic viticulture, including producing some biodynamic wines. Also, all of the wineries have begun to adopt the Pansa Blanca grape variety as a symbol of the area. Some people are even working to recover the Pansa Rosada and reinstate the Picapoll Blanca, as well as those who work with the red counterpart Sumoll variety. DO Alella is small and the varietal recovery is easier in small spaces, since the same amount of work will account for a higher percentage of the vineyards. On the other hand, given the small size of the wineries, Alella can sometimes suffer during harvests in some area. But it is great news that since wines from this area are sensitive to the vintages, the consumer can really experience the character of the vineyard from where the wine comes from, and not just a large production warehouse. Just as is happening in the rest of Catalonia, it is fair to say that the future of viticulture in the region belongs to native and traditional varieties. In fact, in the last ten years, it has only really been the Pasa Blanca grape variety that has experienced a surge, while other varieties, including Grenache, simply do not receive the same support. Perhaps because no one believes they really are part of the future DO Alella. The region produces many different varieties of wines, from white, rosé, red and sweet, plus sparkling wines under the DO Cava.
Marfil Alella. This winery was founded back in 1906 as a cooperative and as an agricultural union. In 1998 the company became private and has since gone by the name of Alella Vinicola. It is home to over 60 hectares of vineyards in Alella, Teià, El Masnou and Tiana, overseeing another 90 hectares that are controlled by various vintners. The winery produces with which traditional wines Marfil Clásicos (red crianza, white and rosé) and new wines by the winery such as: Ivori (white and red), Vallmora (Grenache) and Costa del Maresme. Under the Marfil label the winery also produces a collection of sparkling wines and two Cavas, a brut and brut nature, and a small amount of traditional sweet wines, produced by solera system or vintage ageing.
Alta Alella is a family and exemplary winery. Founded in 1991, it is the personal project of the couple Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and Cristina Guillen when they acquired the 19th century estate Can Genis, located just 2 km from the Mediterranean Sea between the towns of Alella and Tiana. It is a modern winery that from the beginning opted for organic farming and respect for the environment and nature. They have about 12 hectares of vineyards in a spectacular amphitheater overlooking the sea, where they grow Pansa Blanca and other international grape varieties. The winery, designed specifically for microvinifications, produces under the brand Alta Alella (AA) and the label Parvus a dry white, pink and red parenting. The Lanius label corresponds to a dry white with four months of aging, and Orbus is a red varietal Syrah. It also produces a sweet red from the variety Mataro (formerly Monsatrell), the Dolç Mataro, and the Mirgin label, which is reserved for their cavas, including a brut nature Chardonnay and brut nature rosé Pinot Noir.
Parxet is a winery that dates back to the eighteenth century, but it was in early 1980 when the winery began creating what is now called the "Parxet style", which came about under new consumer habits. Their style of dry, fruity and elegant Cavas gave way to its line of Parxet and Titiana Cavas, and later, in 1981, came their line of calm whites under labels Marqués de Alella. Today their Bodegas Raventós d'Aella produces a collection of modern and fresh wines with the Pansa Blanca and other international grape varieties. Currently Parxet and Raventos d'Alella are in the hands of the family Raventós Basagoiti, with wineries in Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Montsant.
Also other companies like Elvi Wines, which also produces in six denominations of origin of Spain, and the hand of the Rioja Castle Sajazarra, have set their eyes on the DO Alella to propose unique wines, as its white Invites, white Pansa and Sauvignon Blanc, and more recently its Invita Rosado, from vineyards located in the area of Vallés, in the place of Bell-lloc.