SAULÓ IS AN ACIDIC, SANDY SOIL low in organic matter and limestone content. You might call it a "perfectly poor" soil for its inability to retain water, which in turn improves the quality of the wines it rears. Sauló is distinctive of vineyards in the Alella region, such as those of Alta Alella, chosen as 2013's Best Catalonian Cellar by the Catalan Sommeliers Association.
On Sauló-covered earth did we spend a Saturday morning, touring the estate that is both home and family project to enologist Josep Pujol-Busquets. Founded in 1991, Alta Alella has expanded from 6 to over 50 hectares of land, dedicated to the practice of organic farming and the purveyance of enotourism. The vineyard is certified to be herbicide, pesticide and insecticide-free, and in its will for transparency, opens its gates to guests for a variety of informative and leisurely visits.
Our particular enotour began on the vineyard's highest point, called "the amphitheater" for its crescent shape. From there can be viewed the whole of Alta Alella's estate, set against the Mediterranean Sea on one side, and the Barcelona skyline on the other. Our guide then took us through the winery's production process and the different areas in which they take place, sharing the vineyard's history and vocation, as well as the vineyard's wines, sampled over an epicurean picnic.
Of the cavas, I enjoyed Privat Nu best. And while the sticky-sweet Dolç Mataró is the winery's star product, I much preferred the milder Syrah Dolç. Alta Alella wines belong to the DO Alella and DO Cava appellations, and range in variety from local Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada, to French-hailing Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard also dedicates one hectare to experimental varieties.
Eight glasses later, I fear giving my non-enophile self away by ending up on the ground. It fortunately didn't happen. But perhaps it would have only been natural, to end back on the soil from whence it all began.
Alta Alella Privat, Cami Baix de de Tiana s/n 08328 Alella www.altaalella.cat Photos by Lady San Pedro.