A new vintage tasting of Torres’ top estate wines is an exploration of terroir, climate and viticulture – along with some world class wines, of course. In addition to showing the wines – including the new Milmanda 2017 and a spectacular Grans Muralles 2016 –Miguel Torres Maczassek revealed Torres’ new projects and pledges.
“Milmanda 2017 – over the years Torres has pulled back on winemaking intervention with this wine, preferring the variety and terroir to ‘speak’.”
A range tasting of the new vintages of premium wines from Familia Torres is always about the place where they come from, the particular soils, root stock, climate and, increasingly of importance the altitude. Not that fifth generation Miguel Torres Maczassek can do much about where the company’s top estates are currently located, but he is instrumental in acquiring land where the top sites of the future will be located.
A tasting of the new Torres Antologica wines included for the second vintage only a wine from Mas De La Rosa, high up in the mountains of Priorat. But in the future the tastings will also be showing wines from Els Tossals which is in the same region but higher and more precipitous and also Les Escostes in the Alts d’Ancosa region of Penedès, which at 700m is the highest vineyards in Penedès, the name translating as “where the slopes are”.
“We want to recuperate this and make a wine for the future here,” Torres says, “Here we tried to find a place with very high altitude because the biggest challenge we have is the climate change, so we need to go higher in order that the grapes ripen a little bit later.”
Torres is planting white varietal Forcada here, one of the company’s ‘ancestral varieties’ with Penedès the first appellation to approve the variety.
One of the aspects of Les Escostes that appeals to Torres is that the original vineyards that were here and subsequently abandoned were planted by pioneers who, he believes had an innate understanding of the potential of the calcareous soils and potential for winemaking.
“When they arrived at this mountain they dreamed that maybe they could plant vineyards and make wine here. I always believed that our ancestors in the past they used to have a lot of knowledge and they were very much connected with nature, so somehow here we try to go back to our roots.”
Apart from planting Forcada, Torres is rebuilding the dry stone terraces and also managing the vineyard as naturally as possible. The first wines from this unique site are expected in a few years.
A new project that will be bearing fruit earlier, however, is an Albariño from 40 year-old vines fermented in 730-litre granite eggs from Pazo Torres Penelas, an estate the family acquired in 2017. The wine which is from the 2018 harvest and due for release shortly is called Finca Pazo Torre Penelas Blanco Granito 2018, with granite used because the cold stone means that the wines do not have to be cooled artificially during fermentation.
“In the past, everything [in Rias Baixas] was made in granite, using lagares, but with time and modernity, stainless steel came, but we wanted to replicate wine fermented in granite rocks.”
As for the premium wines that are currently available
Milmanda 2017, Conca de Barberà
100% Chardonnay. Quite a dry vintage, temperatures higher than average up to June and then cooler in the ripening months, leading to a very low production. Used to be 100% malolactic fermentation – 50% now, over the years Torres has pulled back on winemaking intervention with this wine, preferring the variety and terroir to ‘speak’.
Tasting: On the eye pale gold; open, refined aromas of green peach, fennel, lemon, a little bit of honeyed brioche; on the palate fresh, concentrated, juicy lemon – flesh and zest, tarte au citron. Opened at first it was too cold and there was a real attack of acidity, almost young Kumeu River but, after 30 minutes and warming up, it was more balanced and rounded – still with good structure and tension. Very approachable now
Mas La Plana 2016, Penedès
100% Cabernet Sauvignon (although from 1970-78 it did have small amounts of Tempranillo co-fermented). 2016 was quite a dry vintage especially in the summer months, temperatures were normal on average, slightly cool during the growing season. It is a vintage that “held no surprises”, although the yield was naturally low. Torres describes this as a classic vintage, with the deep roots of the old vines counteracting the dry conditions.
Tasting: Very deep ruby-red, almost opaque; on the nose red and black fruits, fresh plum, liquorice a touch of charcoal; the palate has a fresh, lively feel, great texture, young blackcurrants/ red currants, firm acidity, crunchy, ripe, young fine tannins, the mouthfeel has real finesse and life, a touch of toasty coconut husk on the finish.
Reserva Real 2016, Penedès
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot grown on a tiny vineyard with slate soils (unique within this area). The terroir brings out increased concentration and intensity to the fruit. The observations about climate for 2016 are the same as Mas La Plana, although the vines here are 100m higher. As for vinification, the wine has 18/19 days skin contact that adds intensity and depth to the finished wine, and then 18 months in new French oak. Tasted on release it has a bit of austerity but this will evolve with time.
Tasting: Very deep, intense ruby red; aromas of blueberries, blue plum, black fruit jam and summer truffle; Mouthfeel is fresh, pure, complex and highly textured with well structured, silky tannins; there is a good deal of concentration to the fruit, with notes of blackberry coulis, but it also has citrus flavours of green orange, and liquorice root. Still in its fresh flush of youth, the oak amazingly well integrated and best for laying down, for possibly as much as a decade.
Grans Muralles 2016 , Conca de Barberà
Blend of Garnacha, Cariñena, Querol, Monastrell and Garro. A wine that has one foot in the past in more ways than one – particularly with its use of two ancestral varieties Querol and Garro that were recovered by Torres a century after phylloxera, and which were supposed to have become extinct.
In this region 2016 was wetter than normal, it was a mild to slightly warm year, with above average temperatures in the ripening period. The vines did very well in the conditions with no major problems reported, Torres describing it as class and one of best vintages ever – particularly working on slower extraction.
Tasting: Deep cherry red; on the nose an enticing mix of garrigue herbs, black forest fruit (blackberry), fresh flowers, dried fruit; the mouthfeel is juicy, mouth-filling, a lot of finesse, elegance, tension, and almost hedonistic expression. For me personally this was the wine of the tasting – even though all of the wines were showing well the Grans Muralles just had that little bit extra, in the balance and pure volutuousness.
Mas De La Rosa 2017, Priorat
Cariñena, Garnacha. Second vintage release of Nicolas Torres’ pet project – a super premium, elegant ‘old style’ Priorat that conveys the purity of the Cariñena and the unique terroir that it is grown in – a 1.9 hectare single vineyard, 500m up, featuring 80 year old bush vines. 2017 was a hotter year than average in Priorat with the entire process brought forward by 10 days in lower/ hotter areas. At this altitude harvest was less affected although the yield was naturally lower. The wine has 8-9 days skin contact, fermentation in steel followed by 16 months ageing in French oak.
Tasting: With only 2328 bottles produced and a £250 price tag it will be hard to get hold of this unique field blend that gives a whole new angle on Priorat wines. Mid-purple on the eye; the nose is delicate with a mix of kirsch, flowers and spices; the palate is elegant, fresh, tense and focused with a very tight finish. Flavours are on the red side of the spectrum with a vibrant minerality laced through the wine. Exceptional finesse and freshness. One gets a real sense of place with this wine.