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Marco Bernava and Ruth Fullat met on the beach as teenagers, when Marco and his buddies road-tripped from their home near Milan, Italy to vacation on Ruth’s local beach on the Catalan coast. In the years that followed, they exchanged love letters and taught each other Spanish and Italian. Eventually, Ruth moved to Italy and they both became winemakers. After years of running large, technical, they decided to return to Catalunya in search of a place to settle down and start a small, family project. The potential of Terra Alta’s unique location on the southwest border of Catalunya (where the Mediterranean zone meets the Spanish highlands) and fascinating local ‘panal’ soils (deep, silty loam with limestone and gypsum) to make fresh and interesting wines drew them to the historic winegrowing village of Vilalba dels Arcs. The salty finesse of Garnatxa Blanca from Terra Alta blew them away, as did the rare old plantings of Morenillo, a high-acid native red variety that is experiencing a revival among the region’s forward-thinking vignerons. Terra Alta’s relative affordability gave Marco and Ruth the freedom to develop personal interpretations of Terra Alta’s local varieties, to take risks, and explore (Marco particularly loves the way Montepulciano reacts to ‘panal’ soils, for example, and blends it with Morenillo to delicious effect). Bernaví’s vines are farmed organically, as are any grapes purchased from their neighbors. In the cellar, they seek clear, nuanced wines through the use of stainless steel and large, used foudres (no barriques or new oak). Their value label, Xalera, showcases a light and playful side of Terra Alta at a great price. The Bernaví lineup is composed of subtly rebellious, racy, and complex wines that combine the fine structure from calcareous terroirs with jewel-toned Mediterranean fruit at low alcohols.