height vineyard vine : 60-250 m │hectares: 227 │annual pluviometry : 600 mm │annual temperature average: 15,8° │ winegrowers: 98 │wineries: 8
Located between the sea and the mountains, surely one of the most surprising and attractive mystery of the Alella wines is its own existence, a product of small vineyards, sometimes hidden from the curious eyes of visitors, who for many years fought for survival in an admirable and unequal battle against the expansion of a large and luxurious urban area. Luckily, today the battle has been won, since most of the vineyards of the DO Alella are under protection, because it has been included in the natural park of Montseny (declared a biosphere reserve in 1978), the natural park of Serralada Marina, the natural park of Coastal Range, and the natural park of Montnegre-Corredor and Vall del Tenes..
DO Alella is one of the smallest and also one of the oldest in the Iberian Peninsula. It is said that the Romans kept their amphorae of wine in Tiana, a small town that became the capital at that time, and that from the Maresme ships with a cargo of wine sailed out to the cities of Spanish Cantabrian in the north. There, together with wines from other sources, they undertook the long journey to the Indies. However, this historical origin was not focused in the vineyards and the wine of Alella as we know today, but primarily in the red wines produced in the entire area of Maresme and who enjoyed great prestige at the time, being the favorite of the canons of the Cathedral of Barcelona in medieval times.
More recently, and after the phylloxera plague, most of the vineyards of that area were not planted again. In fact, only Alella was saved, and it was thanks to a privileged situation and the lucidity of those who, at the beginning of the century, built the Cooperativa Vinícola Alella, actually Alella Vinícola, focusing the business vision on the Barcelona bourgeoisie area, but without losing sight of what for many years would be their best customer, the increasingly powerful, and very close, city of Barcelona
DO Alella is located north of Barcelona, where they grow about 227 hectares of vineyards, according to the DO Alella, which spread over two counties: the Maresme, fronting on the Mediterranean, and on the other side of the coastal mountain range, the Vallés Oriental.
- The Maresme ranges between the Barcelonés and La Selva and limits to the north with the Vallés Oriental, and consists of a total of thirty municipalities, sixteen on the coast and fourteen inland.
- Vallès Oriental consists of forty-three municipalities and its capital is Granollers. It borders with the Maresme, Vallés Occidental, Osona and La Selva.
Recommended varieties: white currant (Xarel • Io) and white Garnacha.
Authorized varieties: Macabeo, Malvasia, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Parellada, white Picapoll, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon blanc.
Recommended varieties: Garnacha.
Authorized varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Peluda , Merlot, Monastrell, Pinot Noir, Samsó or Mazuela, Sumoll red, Syrah, Tempranillo or Ull de Llebre.
Wines are produced in all versions: white, rose, red and sweet wine, plus sparkling wines under the DO Cava.
Their common denominator is the minerality, especially in white wines, whatever could be the method of production. We will find this feature in both white and red wines from the maritime side, in the Maresme, and somewhat less perceptible in the inland region of Vallès Oriental.
This minerality is given by the type of soil, a granitic loam which in its topsoil becomes small grains, which are called Sauló. A soil with good drainage makes necessary for the vine to deepen its roots to find water and the different nutriments. Thus, it creates a small “stress”, which well controlled also helps to regulate the production of grapes per vine. In fact, the little different in flavor that we could see in the wines produced in the maritime aspect regarding those processed inland, is that inland wines have an acidity more present.
Current and future
The eight wineries in the DO Alella have very different policies when it comes to cultivating and developing its range of wines. Some still drags a very eclectic view of the Catalan wine, combining a hedonic point of view with a more committed one to the varietal and territorial recovery of Alella vineyard slope. The good news is that almost all the wineries are committed, to a greater or lesser extent, with organic viticulture, even with some natural wines, and that all have begun a way to connect with the adoption of the white currant as the flagship in this area.
Now, however, the white currant is no longer enough. Some are working to recover rose currant, to restoring the white Picapoll, to make more white Garnacha, and there are even those who work with the red Sumoll version.
DO Alella is small and the varietal recovery is easier in confined spaces, in which the same effort represents a much higher percentage of the work to be done.
Alella suffers more than other areas for the crops. Perhaps because the size of the wineries is small, and because the means are also proportional. But it is great news that is sensitive to the vintages, since consumers can see that the wines do not have a big winery behind that could hide what it may happens in the vineyard. And this is something to be grateful for.
The future repose, as in the rest of the Catalan viticulture, on traditional varieties. In fact, in the last ten years, the only proposal in Alella has been white currant. The other varieties, including Garnacha , do not receive the same support, perhaps because nobody really believes that they could form part of the future in the DO Alella.