Wine from Alella, beyond Catalan borders

Wine from Alella, in the northern coast of Barcelona, captivates the public and goes beyond borders in this time of economic crisis.


August 18, 2010 10:41 PM

Alella (ACN).- In a time of crisis, a wine from Alella, in the northern coast of Barcelona, is going beyond Catalan borders. Of the 2 million bottles of wine and cava that are annually produced in the cellars of Alella, at least 15% of them go straight to foreign markets. It is a difficult time to fight for the domestic market, and foreign markets are, in many cases, saving the sales. A powerful case is the one in the Alta Alella cellar, which is the second biggest of the guarantee of origin with a production of 275,000 bottles of wine per year. The company has doubled its exports in only one year. According to the exports manager of the cellar, Miquel Bach, many European countries are buying high-quality cava as an alternative to French champagnes and in other markets, like the Japanese, have doubled their wine orders since 2009.

The Alta Alella cellar has doubled its total production. Aside from this increase in quantity, it has also experienced an increase in quality, as other markets are now opening, like the ones in Japan and the United States. Moreover, the European market is consolidating.

One of the most significant cases is represented by the cava that is produced in Alella, which has entered the French market, a country with a long tradition of champagne. According to the exports manager of the Alta Alella cellar, Miquel Bach, the crisis has been favourable to them in that sense. Bach says that the high cava ranges are used as an alternative to champagne, as the price is much more competitive.

The aim of the cellar is to achieve a balance between domestic and foreign sales. This is the situation in which other cellars of the guarantee of origin are finding themselves, such as Castillo de Sajazarra, a cellar in La Rioja which produces wine of the Alella guarantee of origin and exports 40% of its total production (about 12,000 bottles per year).

The rest of the small cellars of the Alella guarantee of origin also export between 15% and 20% of their production. These are the cases of Roura, which exports wine to Europe and Korea; Altrabanda, which has opened a market in Italy and the United States, or Quim Batlle, which sells its products to Italy, Germany, Belgium and Denmark.

On the other side of the balance there's Parxet, the biggest cellar of the guarantee of origin, with a total production of 1.5 million bottles per year. In this case, only 12% of the cellar’s wine is exported. Alella Vinícola is another example of a cellar which does not rely on exports, even though they send 20% of their production to the foreign market. “But our vital market is here”, they claim. The majority of this cellar's sales do not go beyond a 50 kilometre radius.

A sweet red international wine

Another star of the cellar Alta Alella, aside from the cava, is the Dolç Mataró, a sweet red wine that can be found on the best restaurant menus of the world. The Fat Duck, in London; the Gordon Ramsay Au Trianon, in Versailles; the Hotel Plaza Athenee Alain Ducasse and the Taillevent, in Paris, or the Hotel Mandarin Oriental, in Hong Kong, are some of the restaurants in which one can order a bottle of this wine from Alella.

The Dolç Mataró is a wine made with only one variety of grape, 100% Mataró. In order to make it, the grapes are left on the vine in order for them to overripe. The harvest takes place just before the grapes turn into raisins. Then, the grapes are macerated in stainless steel tanks for a period of six months in order to obtain the maximum extraction of the colour. Finally, the paste is lightly pressed and the wine is made in a French oak barrel for two months.

According to experts, it is a carmine coloured wine with a few touches of glacé fruit, orange peel and green Japanese tea. It is unctuous and very tasty, with an original balance of acid and sweet.