Herència Altés, Terra Alta
“Memories of childhood, games among the vines, I still smell the start of Autumn, aromas of vine that drifted through the narrow streets of the village. The legacy of a grandfather, somebody so important in my life, other ancestors too, that have passed on the pride of the land where I was born. Herència Altés is a homage to my roots and as such the grapes come exclusively from the vineyards of Benefut, El Mas vell i Almudefer, which belongs to my parents.” Núria Altés.
Led by winemaker Núria Altés and her husband Rafael de Haan, whose backgrounds have been in wine their whole lives, this winery highlights the very best of what can be achieved from Garnacha and this breathtaking area of mountainous landscape. In 2010, Nuria decided to buy her father’s grapes and make quality wine that carried her family’s name. The Herència Altes brand was born and in 2013 its success allowed the first planting of their first vineyard – La Serra, and their own small winery in the village of Batea. Nuria and team have worked with esteemed French winemaker Claude Gros where Garnacha is without a doubt the star grape. With Claude, the team experiments with different materials and techniques to get the very best from the local terroir. Four wines soon expanded to nine, including the two single vineyard wines – La Serra Blanc and La Serra Negre. In 2014 and 2015 the Grau and Chalamera vineyards were purchased, bringing the total holding to 60ha. A new part-submerged winery in the Grau vineyard will open officially in early 2017 – designed to achieve greater thermal efficiency, thereby lowering energy use. The winery relies almost entirely on solar power and continues the commitment to lowering environmental impact by recycling rainfall for use throughout the facility. All the vineyards are farmed according to organic practices with certification expected in 2018.
The Herència Altés wine range has recently been reviewed by Luis Gutiérrez of The Wine Advocate. He awarded 7 wines with 90-93+ points elevating Herència Altés to one of Spain’s most premium producers.
The Garnatxa Blanca is grown on sand and clay with some calcareous content. A young expression of this variety, the old vines it is grown on helps achieve complexity and balance. It spends two months on fine lees to gain texture and complexity – resulting in an aromatic wine with notes of melon and white fruits on the nose that is balanced with a medium body. The Rosat reveals brief skin contact with a delicate floral aroma, and a fresh, light taste, influenced by the Garnacha. The Garnatxa Negra is unoaked and expressive a minerality that underlines the bright red fruits on the palate, combined with sweet tannins.
The 100% Garnatxa Negra Rosat Special Edition is packaged in a frosted bottle with a glass cork adding an extra design dimension to this fresh and bright rosé with fruit balancing the lively acidity. Battonage is employed for around two months to improve the mouthfeel.
The Benufet is an unoaked Garnatxa Blanca with texture and freshness, complexity and depth, grown on 100 year old vines named after the vineyard on which the grapes grow. The Cupatge is a blend of 50% Syrah, 25% Garnatxa Negra and 25% Samso (Cariñena). It is grown on a mix of 17 soils with limestone predominating – underlining the fruit forward profile. L’Estel is a full bodied red blend of 50% Samso (Cariñena), 25% Garnatxa Negra and 25% Syrah grown at altitude on sandy and clay soils. A stony minerality sits beneath black fruits and spice on the nose, with fresh berries and toasty notes on the palate. La Peluda is made of 100% Garnaxta Peluda (‘hairy’ grenache), and is picked by hand separately from the garnatxa negra. Mineral driven, it is aged for 10 months in French and Hungarian 500L barrels. Lo Grau del Inquisidor is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Garnatxa Peluda – the syrah is picked separately by hand, fermented and aged for 10 months in used French barrels. The Garnatxa Peluda is made the same way, aged in 500L barrels. This is the inaugural vintage of this wine – where power and depth of flavour matches the freshness.
La Serra Blanc is a single vineyard pure Garnatxa Blanca grown at altitude, expressing terroir and typicity from the 130 year old vines it is grown on. It is aged and fermented for 10 months in new French oak foudres. La Serra Negre comes from the same single vineyard and is a blend of 80% Samso (Cariñena) and 20% Garnatxa Negra. Dark and robust this hand-harvested wine is fermented in 1500L oak foudres, and then aged for 12 months in 300L French oak barrels.
“The white 2013 La Serra Blanc is a pure Garnacha Blanca is a subtle vineyard white that fermented in barrel and shows very good balance and integration of oak. The nose is a mix of subtle balsamic, Mediterranean and elevage aromas and flavors. The fact it was raised in Foudre rather than in barrique might have something to do with it. It also has the freshness and the acidity often linked to 2013 with fenell and aniseed notes. The palate is sleek and ends very tasty. 2,000 bottles produced. I was pleasantly surprised by the single vineyard wines from Herència Altés in Terra Alta (one red and one white), which for some reason I didn’t taste last year. A new name to follow” Luis Gutiérrez, (June 2015)
“Produced with a special strain of Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda or hairy Garnacha, the 2015 La Peluda is a new bottling from lime and limestone soils planted with the strain that tends to produce fresher and lighter juice with higher acidity. It is fermented in stainless steel with malolactic in barrels and a further ten months in 500l French oak barrels. There is a sappy spicy character to this red that I loved, cracked peppercorn with a wild side that made me think of a syrah from Valais. It’s really aromatic and showy. The palate is very refined, with a herbal twist that provides great freshness, perhaps from a relatively early harvest. Impressive!! 6000 bottles were filled in September 2016” Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate.
“A little marked by the élevage with lactic aromas intermixed with notes of fruits of the forest, the 2013 La Serra Negre is a blend of old-vine Carinena and Garnacha from a single vineyard that names the wine: this is a red matured in French oak foudre (that I hope they’ll re-use in following vintages and mark the wine less) which might explain the inital oaky note. The palate is sinewy, fine-grained and has good acidity that lends elegance and balance to the wine. A pleasant surprise and a new wine to follow, as it should get better as the foudres age and impart less aromas and flavours to the wine. I was pleasantly surprised by the single vineyard wines from Herencia Altes in Terra Alta (one red and one white), which for some reason I didn’t taste last year. A new name to follow.” Luis Gutiérrez (June 2015) La Serra Negre