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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Albet i Noya La Milana

Spain (Penedès)

merlot (35%), tempranillo (35%), cabernet sauvignon (25%), caladoc (5%)

www.albetinoya.com

The Swift Current leaves have turned. There’s a need to fortify myself for the winter months ahead.

Albet i Noya La Milana 2005

Black cherry in colour, vibrant on the nose. Aromas of spicy fruit, steeped in earth. Lovely. Mature tannins, pleasant acidity, with tobacco and a warm hint of oak. Lively fruit with a longish finish. Delightful! on an autumn day.  $$

The name La Milana is derived from a seven hectare section of the Albet i Noya’s estate, a bow to the wife of the farmer who owned that part of the property in the mid 19th century. Four grape varieties (in the same proportion as the wine) make up the 20-year-old, 350-metre-high vineyard. The soil here is a mix of clay and sand set on calcareous stone.

Altogether Albet i Noya has 101 hectares, 76 of which are under vine. They lie on the western slopes of the Ordal mountains, southwest of Barcelona, for the most part set in man-made terraces. Although the growing of grapes here dates back hundreds of years, it was just a century ago that the Albet family assumed control of the estate. In 1978 present-day owners Josep Maria (left) and brother Antoni Albet started on the road to organic conversion, the first in Catalonia to do so. Today it is widely seen as the foremost organic winery in the country, with over 20 different wines and cavas in production.

A distinctive feature of Albet i Noya is its program to recover lost varietals, some likely dating back to the pre-phylloxera era. It is estimated that in Penedès as many as 30 varietals fell out of favour and were lost. The initial project (with one hectare of land dedicated to it) saw seven ancient varieties reclaimed, from old and abandoned vineyards. Following the planting of 500 vines of each, the grapes were vinified and sample wines sent to 165 individuals (in 24 different countries) working in various aspects of the wine industry, including wine critics and sommeliers. From this experiment has emerged three wines (a red and two whites) deemed worthy of commercial production. The red will be known as Belat. A second phase of the project (with seven additional varietals) is already well underway.

Josep Maria has just been appointed as president of the Regulatory Council of the Denominación de Origen Penedès. It looks like the D.O. is well on the way to increasing its profile as one of the most interesting of Spain’s wine growing regions.

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