Alella is the Maresme's most renowned wine-growing region
Lovers of Catalan wine may be more familiar with the regions of Penedès to the south of Barcelona and Empordà to the north. However, nestling in the Maresme region of Alella is Catalonia’s smallest D.O. (Denominación de Origen), and Alella wines have, for a while, started to generate some serious interest. This beautiful region, just 14 kilometres north of Barcelona, boasts some of Spain’s best white wines and cavas, thanks in part to the local grape pansa blanca (or xarel-lo), which flourishes in this perfect coastal location.
Winemaking in Alella has been around since Roman times and the region is currently home to eight wineries (bodegas). The reputation of its wines grew steadily until the Middle Ages when the D.O. was supplying the Crown of Aragón, Barcelona’s nobility, and barrels were even shipped to America, but the region had to wait until the 1950s to receive recognition as a true D.O. The 1980s housing boom transformed the landscape, but many of the original traditional farmhouses (masias) remain, having been passed down through the generations into the hands of today’s winemaking families.
Other grape varieties include Garnacha Blanca, Pansa Rosada, Malvasia and Picapoli, also common in the Languedoc and Rhone Valley regions in France. Reds have a longer tradition in the region but are less common, with grape varieties including Tempranillo, Garnacha Negra and Garnacha Peluda.
Wine plays such an important part in the culture and history of Alella and anyone visiting or living in the town can’t escape the influence that the wine industry still plays in the town’s daily life. It’s a rare privilege to live amongst working vineyards located just 15 minutes from a major European city and only minutes from the Mediterranean Sea. This certainly contributes to the outstanding quality of life in Alella and the wider Maresme region.
Here are Alella’s most well known bodegas and recommendations from wine expert Ambika Kumar.
Alta Alella is set in a perfect location overlooking the Maresme region, a vantage point that gives visitors extensive views of vines producing seventeen different types of grapes. Owner Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets heads up this family business, one of the largest bodegas in the region. Alta Alella uses the Pansa Blanca grape in most of their white blends and cavas, but the bodega has introduced a natural line of wines, organically produced without sulphites and produced in their Cellar de les Aus (Winery of the Birds).
Opus Evolutium Gran Reserva Brut Nature
A favourite of mine with rich aromas of ripe white fruit and white flowers, wrapped in bakery notes.
A sweet red wine that can be found on the best restaurant menus of the world including The Fat Duck in the UK, Gordon Ramsay’s Au Trianon in Versailles, the Alain Ducassee au Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.
For an extensive list of Alta Alella wines visit their website
Covering 50 hectares across a range of terraces, Bodegas Marfil grows many different grape varieties from young and old vines and produces eighteen different reds, whites, cavas and dessert wines. They offer a variety of guided tours and visitors can also join in the seasonal grape harvest and pruning of vines.
Marfil Negre Criança
This has an intense fruity aroma as well as some balsamic, with spiced and slightly foral hints and notes of liquorice and smoked nuances.
For more wines from Marfil visit their website
Bouquet d’Alella is a family-run winery offering thirteen different wines using local grape varieties grown over thirteen hectares. All of their wines, including a renowned sweet wine, are hand corked and hand labelled. Tours of the winery are available, or you can spend an afternoon having a picnic on their land overlooking the sea. The winery will even give you a treasure map to your special picnic spot, along with ingredients including local cheeses and meats and, of course, a bottle of their wine.
Bouquet d’Alella Blanc
A barrel-aged white wine with mature ripe fruit aromas that finishes with decadent vanilla and butter notes.
For more wines from Bouquet d’Alella visit their website
Parxet is solely dedicated to the production of cavas. There are seven cavas with the bodega’s Parxet label and three with their Titiana label. Both Brut Natur and Brut Reserva are available, as well as a rosé dessert cava made solely from pinot noir grapes. For true connoisseurs, gastronomic tastings can be arranged inside their Masia, Can Matons.
Parxet Titiana Pinto Noir Brut Rosé
This fresh and exuberant rosé cava offers a sensational fruity mix of blackberries, raspberries and cranberries, ideal for celebratory moments and long summer evenings.