The traditional image of Andalusian wine in has undergone what some have called the ´purple revolution’ in the past decade. We have seen in the region a rise in conventional wines that are no longer side-lined in a region whose cultural fabric has so far has been dominated by fortified wines such as Sherry and Manzanilla. Wineries such as Huerta de Albalá have sprung up across Andalusia with the aim of finding different oenological alternatives to show that the south is not only land of fortified wine.
Vincente Taberner is an enthusiastic Valencian, who after marrying his German wife moved to Frankfurt, where they lived for over twenty years. There he delved into various businesses, including an importer of Spanish wines which, over time, became one of the most important wine importers in Germany. However, the thought of making his own wine had always appealed to him, and he soon became involved in the brandy business working at the Fernando de Castilla winery in Jerez. Arriving in Andalusia in 2000, it was then that he changed his mind and decided that instead of Sherries and fortified wines, he still wanted to make conventional wines.
History of the Winery
Vincente Taberner decided to start his new project in 2001 in Arcos de la Frontera, Cadiz, which lies outside of the ‘Consejo Regulador de Jerez’. Here he founded the Huerta de Albalá winery, an estate of 91 hectares, which is now home to 75 different vineyards.
The decision to choose the area of Arcos de la Frontera was due to its topography, microclimate, and the peculiarities of the earth, as well as its charm and culture. Here he planted Shiraz, accompanied by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as maintaining a percentage of the Tintilla Rota, a traditional red variety of Arcos de la Frontera. As for whites he planted Chardonnay, a variety that has already proven to work well in this region.
More recently, in 2010, the winery acquired the Finca El Caballo from the Osborne Group, 160 hectares of vineyards within the DO Jerez and located in the so-called "Pago Balbaina". The new vineyards are planted with grape varieties for white wines, such as Palomino and some Chardonnay, but is carrying out a plan of momentum to continue betting on a careful work in the vineyard, with the replanting of new varieties and, consequently, the expansion of its range of wines.
The whole architectural project of the winery was undertaken by Mariano Taberner Montoro, who paid careful attention to the building’s integration into the surrounding landscape, in order to ensure its low environmental impact. To design the building, Mariano and his team resorted to architecture of traditional forms (white plaster on the wall faces, aged Arab tiles for the roofs which are supported by wooden beams, rustic glazed tiles for the patios and locks that are in keeping with the traditional designs of the area).
The winery, inspired by the air of a château, is home to facilities that are surprising for what you would normally find in the south. But here everything is a reflection of the personality and passionate character of Vicente Taberner who from the outset has opted for seeking unique and different wines from significant investments both in the vineyards and winery.
Huerta de Albalá currently produces 500,000 bottles annually of Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz, with 50% of their total production being exported.
The philosophy of Huerta de Albalá is to deliver wines that express terroir, with intense colour and purity of varietal flavour, that reflect the zone from which they are from and that display an elegant structure with smooth tannins whilst being rich, powerful and complex. In order to achieve this, care of the vineyard is fundamental.
The vines grow at elevations that range from 100-250m above sea level. The vineyards are home to a wide variety of soils and privileged location within a special micro-climate, generated by the proximity of the reservoir of Bornos and the mountain range of Grazalema.
All of the grapes used to produced Huerta de Albalá wines are harvested by hand, and in peak insolation the bunches are protected by the leaves. Harvesting the grapes by hand ensures that the grapes are only taken at their peak moment of maturation, while the immediate vicinity of the vineyard to the winery ensures that the grapes do not oxidize or spoil as they do not have to travel long distances. It is also worth noting that all of the grapes used to produce Taberner and Taberner Nº I are collected and harvested by hand at night. Each plot on the estate is separately planted, controlled, analyzed, vinified at the winery and aged before a final decision is made on the final blend.
At the 4,600m2 winery, all the facilities combine modernity and tradition, where the latest technologies and methods of production are combined with true traditional artisan winemaking techniques. The winery is built on several levels so the production of the wines is carried out using gravity. The gravitationally fed winery houses two rooms: The first for the production of Taberner and Barbazul, the second for Taberner Nº I and Barbarosa. One holds stainless steel, temperature controlled, fermentation tanks, the other, Allier oak fermentation vats.
Beneath the winery there are 1,600 barriques, all produced from French Allier oak, coming from a variety of tonnelleries: 520 Sylvain, 700 Mercier and the remaining 380 are shared between Francois Freres, Francis, Vicard and Demptos Reserva. Before releasing their first wines into the market (2005 vintage), the winery carried out three years (2002, 2003 and 2004 vintages) of research work examining the reaction of the wine to various origins and producers of oak.
Huerta de Albalá wines
The first vintage to be marketed by Huerta de Albalá was back in January 2007. Their wines are characterized by their wide range of aromas and the cleanness and respect of the oak with the fruits, their depth, balance and authenticity.
Their high end wine, the Taberner Nº I, is produced using 80% Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and is aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, with only 10,000 bottles of average being produced. This wines ferments in wooden vats, with plunging the cap taking place every 2 hours for 15 days. The wine is not filtered. This wine has an exquisite complexity, subtlety and finesse that combines the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. On The nose this wine holds aromas of fruit liqueur, coffee, jam, roasted coffee, toffee and fine woods. In the mouth it is wide, enveloping, with body and volume, elegant, aromatic and with a long, lingering finish.
Another wine produced by Huerta de Albalá is the Taberner, produced using Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, aged for one year in French oak barrels. Taberner has aromas of ripe fruit with floral hints, coffee and licorice. The palate is tasty, sweet, balsamic and balanced. This wine is proof of the revelation of the Southern Spanish terroir, where the soil conditions and climate join forces to give way to a wine with a distinct personality.
Barbazul is almost the little brother of Taberner, although a different wine with its own personality. This wine is made using 4 different grape varieties: Syrah (60%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet (15%) and Tintilla de Rota (5%), and spends only 5 months ageing in the barrels. On the nose this wine is complex, with aromas of red fruit,fig leaves and aromatic herbs. The palate is tasty, fresh, long and with a great acidity.
The winery also produces the Babazul Rosado, a single variety Syrah, this wine looks more like a claret than a rosé. Floral aromas, rose, tropical fruits and herbs. In the mouth this wine is opulent, sweet, with a great fruity and full expression.
Finally, there is the Barbazul Blanco, made using 100% Chardonnay grapes. This wine is not aged, and is light yet tasty, with citrus tones on the nose. On the mouth this wine is unctuous, but fresh with sufficient acidity.
It is worth noting that although the wineries released their first wines only back in 2007, one of the world’s most influential wine critics, Robert Parker, scored their Taberner Nº I 95 Parker Points and their Taberner 92.