Nuria Altés, like many young vintners in Spain, comes from a family who have 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 which few are aware – something Nuria has set about changing. Having grown up among the vines that her grandfather tended, Nuria has known these vineyards since her childhood and made the decision 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.
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. The part of Terra Alta is so prone to these two winds that in addition to growing grapes, the area is famous for windmills which generate much of the region’s electricity. 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 a lower alcohol levels and with higher acidities. 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 punchdowns to keep the cap submerged.
Crafted from a mix of old and young vines grown on sandy and chalky soils around the village of Batea, the 2018 Garnatxa Blanca from Herencia Altes is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness of this wine but with lees stirring to add a little extra weight.