Alta Alella is the passion project of Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and his wife, Cristina Guilléns. Their terraced vineyards lie within the Serralada de Marina Natural Park, just over a mile from the Mediterranean coast and a short 20-minute drive from Barcelona. There, Pansa Blanca (Xarel·lo), Mataró (Mourvèdre), Parellada, Macabeu, Garnatxa Negra, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines grow on sauló—a white granite-based sand noted for its low pH, low organic matter and good drainage.
The family has farmed organically since founding the winery in 1991, an effort made easier by the park’s rich ecosystem, with protected species of birds and bees that aid in pollination and help ward off disease-causing pests. They seek to produce ‘transparent’ wines that reflect soil and vintage characteristics, and while two thirds of their production is dedicated to Cava, they make an ever-evolving roster of small-lot still wines from the Alella D.O. (the smallest D.O. in Spain) and no-SO2, “natural” wines and Cavas using amphorae partly made from their own sauló.
Cava Reserva ‘Mirgin’ Brut Nature
varieties: pansa blanca, macabeu, parellada soil type: sandy granite avg vine age: 24 years
This zero-dosage sparkling wine comes off a southeast-facing plot on the local sauló soil. After a gentle pressing, the base wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. Once blended and bottled, it’s aged on the fine lees for 15 to 30 months prior to disgorgement.
Cava Reserva ‘Mirgin Rosé’ Brut Nature
variety: mataró soil type: sandy granite avg vine age: 24 years
This zero-dosage, saignée sparkling rosado comes off a southeast-facing plot on the local sauló soil. After a gentle pressing, the base wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. Once blended and bottled, it’s aged on the fine lees for 15 to 30 months prior to disgorgement.
Cava ‘Bruant’ Brut Nature
variety: pansa blanca soil type: sandy granite avg vine age: 48 years
One of Alta Alella’s “natural” Cavas, Bruant takes its name from a chestnut- and grey-streaked bird that lives in the vineyard. Vines come off of two plots, one planted in 1959, the other planted in 1984. The grapes are hand-harvested and gently pressed before spontaneous alcoholic fermentation. Second fermentation occurs in bottle using the ancestral method, and the wine is aged on the lees for 15 to 24 months before disgorgement, with no sulfur or any ingredient other than grapes added at any point during winemaking.