Albet i Noya
Albet i Noya's Cava Brut 21, as recommended by blogger Tara Stevens
There’s a theory that if you drink organic wine you don’t get a hangover, which I’ve got to say, having tested it on various occasions isn’t strictly true. But it sure as hell beats the rough old gut rot you get for €1.20 in the supermarket. Drink enough of it and anything will give you a hangover, but hell, I’m not here to lecture.
I’m here to tell you about one of the very first wineries I ever went to in Spain: Albet i Noya (www.albetinoya.com) in the Penedès. A friend who ran an online wine shop took me there and told me the intriguing story of Josep Maria who had shocked his friends and neighbours back in the early Eighties by becoming vegan. When the D.O. was approached by a Danish supermarket about providing an organic wine for the forward-thinking Danes, they shrugged and said; “sure, give it to the hippy.”
I love this story because despite the initial cynicism, Albet i Noya today is one of the most successful wineries in the country. Their wine is 100 percent organic and they seem to thrive on breaking the rules. Josep Maria is, if you like, the original wine-making maverick. A few years ago while out walking the lands, he stumbled across what he believed to be pre-phylloxera vines in the woodland, and set about grafting them back at the winery. Today, several species are kept under lock and key in a secret barrel room ready to become what he believes will be the future of Penedès wines: endemic wines that define the terroir like never before.
Meanwhile their range remains small, carefully made and generally excellent. There’s not room in one post to delve into all of them, though you are welcome to add your opinions. Rather, I’ll point you in the direction of one of my favourite celebration cavas, Albet i Noya Cava Brut 21, which was originally made to commemorate the millennium and was such a roaring success that they kept on making it.
Fifty percent Chardonnay to 43 percent Parellada this is a light, fresh fizz with a lovely silky texture in the mouth, and a nicely balanced acidity that makes it great as an aperitif but robust enough to stand up to food. It’s not the cheapest cava by a long shot (for a day-to-day sipper their basic brut nature is perfectly adequate, the Can Vendrell a step up), retailing at around €21 a bottle, but it has the edge over most other brands and it is something extra special for summer that gives champagne a run for its money.