Herència Altés: Crafting Sustainable Catalan Wines.
In the sun-kissed heart of Catalonia’s southernmost wine region, DO Terra Alta, where vibrant vineyards paint the landscape with a kaleidoscope of colors each spring, Herència Altés proudly stands as a family winery deeply rooted in a profound love for the land and a steadfast commitment to its preservation. Their wines exude character, freshness, and elegance, mirroring the essence of the terroir and transporting you sip by sip to the very place where they were born.
Meet Herència Altés: A Winery Steeped in Tradition and Innovation
Nuria Altés and her husband Rafael de Haan embarked on this remarkable winemaking journey in 2010. It was a journey born out of their unconditional love for the land and a strong connection to their ancestors, who were deeply entrenched in the art of vine-growing. Nuria’s upbringing amidst vineyards was more than just a childhood; it was a profound immersion in the cycle of a vineyard’s life. She vividly recalls the early morning sounds of tractors signaling the start of harvest and the intoxicating aroma of grape juice that wafted through the village streets during those days.
Now, together with her husband, they are on a mission to transmit this deep-seated affection for the land and the way it is cultivated in all the wines they produce. Their vision is simple yet profound: to create wines that are a true reflection of the terroir, carrying with them the heritage and passion of Terra Alta.
From 6 Hectares to Over 50: A Remarkable Journey
Herència Altés embarked on its winemaking odyssey with a mere 6 hectares of vineyards. Today, they have grown substantially, owning over 50 hectares within the DO Terra Alta. This expansion includes the cherished plots that have been in Nuria’s family for generations, allowing them to not only cultivate the land but also nurture their connection to the region’s history.
Their commitment to sustainable winemaking is evident in their transition to organic farming, which began in 2015 and was officially certified in 2018. This is more than just a label; it’s a testament to their dedication to nurturing the land while preserving the winemaking traditions of their ancestors.
Championing Biodiversity and Environmental Responsibility
But Herència Altés doesn’t stop at organic farming; they are deeply engaged in a significant environmental initiative. One of their properties in Gandesa serves as a bastion for preserving the natural heritage of the area. They have joined a butterfly identification network, a project aimed at monitoring these multicolored insects, which serve as vital indicators of animal biodiversity. Additionally, they actively participate in the reintroduction of species like the barn owl, essential for controlling insects that can harm the vineyard.
Their commitment extends to the flora as well. Thousands of native trees and plants have been planted to restore the ecological balance of the region. Furthermore, they have set up shelters for bats, which play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy vineyard ecosystem. In an era where environmental responsibility is paramount, Herència Altés leads by example, with 80% of their energy needs met by solar panels, emphasizing harmony with the environment.
Crafting Wines with Terroir at Heart
At the core of Herència Altés is their commitment to crafting wines that authentically express the Terra Alta terroir. Nuria Altés, together with oenologist Gerard Mercadé and the expertise of French winemaker Claude Gros, work tirelessly to produce wines that embody finesse, character, and a strong sense of place.
Most of their vineyards are non-irrigated, allowing the vines to adapt to the region’s dry conditions. Hand harvesting is a labor-intensive process that underscores their dedication to quality. Fermentation begins naturally with indigenous yeasts, fostering the distinctiveness of each vineyard. The use of stainless steel or cement tanks minimizes external influence on the grapes, ensuring that the final product reflects the true essence of the land.
Garnacha Blanca: The Crown Jewel
Herència Altés places a strong emphasis on indigenous varieties, particularly Garnacha, and the iconic Garnacha Blanca. Garnacha Blanca, known for its drought resistance and adaptability to Terra Alta’s climate extremes, takes center stage in their wine portfolio. This variety is also known as Grenache Blanc in the South of France, and it lends Herència Altés’ wines medium-intensity aromas with fruity, floral, and herbaceous notes. On the palate, it typically presents as a light wine with medium persistence.
Their commitment to Garnacha Blanca extends to Benufet, a wine sourced from the highest plots they own in Terra Alta. These vines, aged between 30 and 90 years, yield low production but high concentration and minerality. The sandy soils with clay over limestone contribute to the wine’s exceptional character. With a meticulous winemaking process, Benufet offers aromas of stone fruit, citrus, and hints of bread dough, delivering a fresh and rich experience with optimal acidity. It pairs beautifully with fish and rice dishes, making it a gastronomic delight.
Exploring Herència Altés Wines
For this article we reviewed a selection of Herència Altés wines, wines that are true to tradition and heritage but also have their very own character.
LLunari | Garnacha Blanca | Vino Brisado | 2022: A Symphony of Flavors and Textures
The LLunari Garnacha Blanca Vino Brisado 2022 is a wine that invites you on a sensory journey through the age-old winemaking traditions of Herència Altés. As a 100% Garnacha Blanca, this wine embodies the essence of Terra Alta, showcasing the region’s terroir with finesse and elegance.
About the Winemaking
At its heart, LLunari pays homage to the traditional winemaking technique of Vino Brisado, where white grapes are treated like red grapes, fermenting with their skins and seeds. This method imparts a unique depth of character to the wine, and LLunari is a perfect embodiment of this artistry.
The journey of LLunari begins with the careful manual harvesting of the Garnacha Blanca grapes, ensuring that only the finest clusters are selected. Natural yeasts, cultivated from the very vineyard where the grapes are grown, initiate fermentation, allowing the wine to develop its distinct personality. This commitment to natural processes is a testament to Herència Altés’ dedication to authenticity and purity in winemaking.
About the Wine
Upon pouring, LLunari welcomes you with a bright golden color that glistens in the glass, a visual prelude to the sensory experience that awaits. The first encounter with the wine reveals a bouquet of citrus aromas, where notes of grapefruit and hints of orange peel tantalize the senses. These fragrant nuances evoke the essence of the Mediterranean sun that bathes the Terra Alta vineyards, a testament to the terroir’s influence on the wine’s character.
What sets LLunari apart is its distinct palate. With every sip, you are greeted by a captivating interplay of flavors and textures. A pleasing bitterness, reminiscent of raw almonds, emerges towards the finish, adding depth and complexity to the wine. This bitterness, far from overpowering, enhances the overall tasting experience, making LLunari a wine that intrigues and delights. The wine’s optimal acidity enlivens the palate, creating a refreshing and lively sensation. It balances the bitterness, ensuring that LLunari remains harmonious and approachable. The result is a wine that dances on the taste buds, leaving a lasting impression of freshness and vibrancy.
LLunari Garnacha Blanca Vino Brisado 2022 is a testament to Herència Altés’ commitment to crafting wines that reflect the heart and soul of Terra Alta. This wine showcases the heritage of traditional winemaking techniques, the purity of natural processes, and the unique terroir of the region. With its bright golden hue, citrus aromas, pleasing bitterness, and optimal acidity, LLunari invites you to savor a symphony of flavors and textures that capture the essence of Terra Alta in every sip.
We award this wine with a 90-point DWA score.
La Musaranya | Garnacha Blanca | 2022: A Captivating Ode to Garnacha Blanca’s Potential
La Musaranya, a 100% Garnacha Blanca wine from Herència Altés, elegantly embodies the remarkable oenological potential of this captivating grape variety. With meticulous craftsmanship and an unwavering commitment to Terra Alta’s terroir, this wine delivers an experience that is nothing short of enchanting.
About the Variety
La Musaranya embarks on a journey to explore the depth and character of Garnacha Blanca. This variety, known for its adaptability and resilience, thrives in Terra Alta’s unique climatic conditions. As the sun bathes the vineyards, Garnacha Blanca ripens, offering its best expression in La Musaranya.
About the Wine
In the glass, La Musaranya unveils its vibrant yellow hues, reminiscent of the sunlit landscapes of Terra Alta. These hues hint at the richness and warmth that lie within. As you approach the glass, an aromatic bouquet envelops you, filled with the enticing scents of ripe fruit, delicate white flowers, and subtle herbal notes. It’s a fragrant invitation to a sensory journey.
Upon the first sip, La Musaranya graces your palate with its distinctive charm. Its entry is gentle and inviting, embodying the essence of Garnacha Blanca. The wine’s texture is light and round, caressing the taste buds with a smooth and velvety embrace. This graceful interplay of flavors and textures creates a sense of harmony that is truly delightful. As you savor La Musaranya, its medium-plus finish unfolds gracefully. This lingering conclusion is a testament to the wine’s complexity and balance. It invites you to savor the wine’s character long after each sip, leaving a lasting impression that lingers on the palate.
La Musaranya Garnacha Blanca 2022 is a symphony of flavors and aromas that pay tribute to Garnacha Blanca’s potential in Terra Alta. With its vibrant yellow hues, enticing bouquet, gentle palate presence, and medium-plus finish, this wine offers a delightful expression of the region’s terroir. La Musaranya invites wine enthusiasts to embark on a sensory journey through the captivating landscapes of Terra Alta, guided by the craftsmanship and passion of Herència Altés.
We award this wine with a 90-point DWA score.
Benufet | Garnacha Blanca | 2022: Elevating Garnacha Blanca to New Heights
In the heart of Terra Alta, where the sun-drenched vineyards weave stories of the land, Herència Altés presents Benufet, a wine that ascends to the pinnacle of Garnacha Blanca’s potential. With its origins in the highest plots of Herència Altés’ vineyards, Benufet is an opulent masterpiece that unveils the essence of Garnacha Blanca in a symphony of aromas and flavors.
About the Vineyards
Benufet emerges as a testament to Herència Altés’ relentless pursuit of excellence. The vineyards that cradle this 100% Garnacha Blanca wine are perched at the highest altitudes, where the vines bask in the generous Mediterranean sun. Here, the terroir imparts its unique character to the grapes, promising a wine that will be nothing short of extraordinary.
About the Wine
Upon your first encounter with Benufet, a fragrant medley of aromas envelops you. The wine exudes the luscious scents of ripe stone fruit, evoking images of sun-kissed orchards. These notes intertwine seamlessly with citrus accents, infusing the bouquet with a refreshing vitality. The aromas that dance from the glass foreshadow the vibrant journey that awaits.
As Benufet graces your palate, its richness and freshness converge in perfect harmony. The wine unfolds with a mouthfeel that is both sumptuous and invigorating. It is a testament to the winemaking artistry that cherishes the true character of Garnacha Blanca. With every sip, Benufet showcases its ability to delight and captivate.
Benufet Garnacha Blanca 2022 is a wine that ascends to the zenith of Garnacha Blanca’s potential. With its captivating aromas of stone fruit and citrus, its rich yet fresh mouthfeel, and its gastronomic elegance, Benufet stands as a testament to Herència Altés’ commitment to excellence. It is a wine that transcends the ordinary, inviting you to savor the heights of Terra Alta’s terroir and the artistry of Herència Altés.
In the realm of winemaking, Benufet is a precious gem. Its annual production is limited to a mere 7,500 bottles, a testament to its exclusivity and the dedication that goes into its creation. Each bottle represents a harmonious blend of tradition, terroir, and craftsmanship, making it a cherished treasure for connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.
We award this wine with a 92-point DWA score.
La Serra Negra | Cariñena, Garnacha Negra | 2019: A Magical Symphony of Centenary Vineyards
La Serra Negra, born from the mystical union of Cariñena and Garnacha Negra, is a testament to the enchantment of Terra Alta’s vineyards. This medium ruby-red wine emerges as a spellbinding composition from the centenary vineyards of the “La Serra” estate, where manual harvesting, spontaneous fermentation, and meticulous aging transform the grapes into a captivating elixir.
About the Vineyards and Winemaking
La Serra Negra’s roots reach deep into the soil of Terra Alta’s most venerable vineyards. Centuries-old vines, standing as guardians of time, bestow their wisdom upon the grapes that find their way into this extraordinary blend. The result is a wine that carries the echoes of generations past, a testament to the enduring legacy of the land.
At Herència Altés, the journey of winemaking is steeped in tradition and respect for nature. La Serra Negra’s grapes are carefully hand-picked, with each cluster selected to ensure only the finest fruit is chosen. Spontaneous fermentation, orchestrated by indigenous yeasts, adds an element of unpredictability to the process, allowing the wine to develop its unique personality, much like a story unfolding in nature’s own rhythm.
About the Wine
La Serra Negra presents itself as a medium ruby-red wine that shimmers with vibrancy. The wine’s aromatic tapestry is rich and multifaceted, weaving together notes of black fruit, including blackberries and cherries, with a medley of spices. Hints of licorice and a subtle touch of oak add depth and sophistication to the bouquet, creating an olfactory symphony that captivates the senses.
With each sip, La Serra Negra reveals its complex nature, striking a delicate balance between intensity and elegance. It is a wine that commands attention with its bold flavors and well-integrated tannins, yet it does so with grace and refinement. The wine’s intensity is matched only by its elegance, a harmonious marriage of power and finesse.
La Serra Negra’s charm extends to its fresh and balanced profile, a reflection of Terra Alta’s unique terroir. It is a wine that lingers on the palate, inviting contemplation and appreciation. Its refreshing nature makes it a delightful choice year-round, transcending seasons and occasions.
La Serra Negra Cariñena, Garnacha Negra 2019 is a magical symphony that emanates from Terra Alta’s centenary vineyards. With its rich aromas, intense yet elegant character, and fresh, balanced profile, it is a wine that transcends time and place. La Serra Negra stands as a testament to Herència Altés’ commitment to crafting wines that capture the spirit of the land and the artistry of winemaking. It is an elixir that invites you to embark on a sensory journey through the enchanting landscapes of Terra Alta.
We award this wine with a 93-point DWA score.
For those who are interested in other wines by Herència Altés there are two we reviewed earlier (both awarded a 93-point DWA score). Click below for the reviews:
- Trementinaire 2018 (orange wine made from Garnacha Blanca)
- La Serra Blanc 2018 (the white version of the Serra Negra, made from Garnacha Blanca)
In Conclusion: A Winery with a Timeless Vision
What Nuria Altés and her team have achieved with Herència Altés is nothing short of remarkable. Their wines not only capture the essence of Terra Alta but also embody the legacy and passion that have shaped the world of wine for generations.
Herència Altés stands as a progressive and innovative winery, blending heritage and passion to create wines with roots and personality. Their commitment to sustainability, respect for tradition, and dedication to preserving the land serve as a testament to their vision for a future where wine and nature coexist in perfect harmony.
In the Catalan spirit of “Salut!” (Cheers!), Herència Altés invites us to raise a glass to the timeless connection between the land, the vine, and the people who tend to them, producing wines that tell a story as old as time itself.