By Malcolm Rose, NCSG Vice President
Following our visit to Bodega Lustau which was described in the last Guild newsletter, my wife and I visited the Torres winery in Vilafranca del Penedes, about an hour south of Barcelona.
The Torres brand is well known and its wines are shipped to over 100 countries around the world. Founded in 1870, the privately owned company has been passed down from generation to generation. The winery embraces environmental sustainability and is a leader in promoting renewable energies that minimize the impact of carbon dioxide emissions, such as solar and wind energy and the use of biomass.
Upon our arrival at the winery, we were struck by the magnitude of the operation. Although my wife and I have visited many different wineries in France and Italy on previous trips, the Torres winery by far was the
most impressive in sheer size. More than 1700 hectares of vineyards are under cultivation in Catalonia alone, with vineyards located in other regions of Spain as well. Multiple stainless steel fermenting tanks dotted the property some holding thousands of litres of wine.
Following an excursion around the vineyards, we were invited to tour the ultra modern winemaking facility, and as it was harvest time, we were lucky enough to see bunches of grapes that were being unloaded into destemming machines. Rich with sugar, the Tempranillo were super sweet, and in order to sample a few grapes, we had to compete with the bees which were attracted to the berries.
Following our tour, we were invited to the tasting room where we sampled nine wines—four whites and five reds. We began with V?na Esmeralda, a very aromatic, easy drinking wine from Catalunya that is made with Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer. Typical of these varietals, it had floral notes of rose, lavender and jasmine with a touch of orange citrus. This was followed by a Gran Vina Sol from Penedes, made from Chardonnay and Parellada. It too was quite aromatic, with peach and a touch of vanilla on the palate. Next up was another wine from Penedes, Milmanda, 100% Chardonnay, with aromas of citrus and peach and a fruity, somewhat oily, but refreshing mouthfeel. The last white was an estate Chardonnay, Viñedo Don Miguel. It was barrel aged resulting in lush, creamy flavours with great structure and depth.
Now it was time to try the wonderful reds. First up was a Gran Sangre de Toro Riserva from the Catalyuna area made from a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Syrah. It had a rich fruity aroma with notes of spice and black fruit with a smooth, lingering finish. This was followed by a Gran Coronas from the Penedes region, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo blend with pronounced scents of menthol and spice. The persistent finish yielded flavours of anise, cherry and plum. The Celeste Crianza that followed was made from 100% Tempranillo grapes sourced from Ribera del Duero. This was a more intense wine with big scents and flavours of fruit and spice. The tannins were well integrated and supported by a good backbone of acidity. Following this, we tried a Salmos from Priorat which was comprised of a blend of Garnacha Tinto, Syrah and Cariñena. The wine was reminiscent of jam and licorice with a smooth backgound of spice and toast from the 12 months it spent in French oak barrels. And finally, we tried the iconic Mas La Plana, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Penedes. This outstanding single estate wine spends 18 months in barrels and it did not disappoint. It had big aromas and flavours of truffles, toast and red fruit with silky smooth tannins and well integrated acidity.
For those of you who are planning a trip to the Catalonia region of Spain, a trip to the Torres winery should be on your list of places to visit. This is not a small, quaint, winemaking facility, but one that will certainly impress and delight those who enjoy Spanish wines.