Albet i Noya, the organic pioneers

Albet i Noya is a winery in Sant Pau d’Ordal with the typical mixed production of DO Penedès and DO Cava, as so many others in the area. This is a medium-sized enterprise, with a production of some 2 million bottles per year, out of their 76 hectares.

The estate of Can Vendrell, where the winery is located, lies in the first slopes of the Ordal mountains. The Albet i Noya family have been managing this estate for four generations, but it was the present one that bought the estate in 1986 and established today’s structure.

Vines grow in sloped plots or in man-made terraces. Soils are poor, with a calcareous bed and a thin layer of clay. All grapes are hand picked, and in some cases selected grain by grain. White varieties grown include Chardonnay, Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Garnatxa Blanca. As red varieties they have Cabernet Sauvignon, Ull de Llebre (aka Tempranillo), Merlot, Syrah, Garnatxa Negra, Caladoc, Arinarnoa, Marselan and Pinot Noir. This large variety is quite normal in Penedès.

It produces a wide range of wines: white, rosé, red, sweet, sparkling (Cava) of uniform good quality, and at reasonable prices; however, there are no really outstanding wines, no Parker ratings higher than 90, so to speak. The main brands are Lignum (white and red), la Milana red, Reserva Martí red, and the Col.lecció line, monovarietals of Chardonnay and Syrah.

What is special, then? Is this just another honest, unremarkable, upper-middle class winery?

There are mainly three features that make Albet i Noya remarkable.

The first one is that, in 1978, they were the first winery in Catalonia to embrace organic farming and winemaking, and have remained a benchmark ever since. Since 2004 they are also starting to grow grapes byodinamically in a part of the estate.

The Cava line also has some special things to offer, starting with manual degorjat and the date of this operation in all labels, to permit timely consumption.

Barrica 21 is a Cava with Champagne-like composition, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and base wine fermentation in French oak barrels. This lends a special body, enough to match the richest meats.

Also the Cava Dolç de Postres is one of the handful of sweet, quality products that are on the market. As happens with other quality sweet wines, low quality sweet Cava has created a bad reputation that is difficult to overcome, yet good sweet Cava is a perfect match for most desserts.

The third point is their program of recovery of ancient, perhaps pre-phylloxera grape varieties. They have dedicated one hectare to growing vines of obscure descent, often found by chance in the neighbouring mountains, and with DNA that does not match known varieties. A part of the cellar is dedicated to vinification in small quantities, including a metal press similar to ancient wooden, manual ones, and then samples of the resulting wines are distributed to experts around the world to assess quality. In this way they have already identified three grape varieties, two white and one red, which they deem worthy of producing commercial scale wines.

The red grape has been christened as Belat, which is at the same time an anagram of Albet and sounds like the Catalan velat, which means hidden or shrouded as becomes to this elusive grape. White varieties remain unnamed for the time being.

Hopefully in a few years these new grapes, and others to come, will have hit the market (I have a bottle of Belat to be poured sometime soon) and enlarged the choice for the discerning wine enthusiast.


  1. Thanks for the interesting article. I just posted a link to your blog post under the review we did of Albet I Noya NV Cava: http://www.organicwinereview.com/albet-i-noya-cava-nv/

  2. Thank you, Brent. Glad you found it interesting. I'll have a good look at your website.