Visiting Torres, one of Spain's most important wine producers
Part 1, the Torres winery, Fransola and Mas La Plana

Decorative demi-johns on the roof of the Torres winery 

In this short series I'm going to be reporting on a few days spent visiting Torres, one of Spain’s most important wine companies.

The beauty of Torres is that they are a large wine company who make good wine at a number of levels. This means that the wines are well distributed, and that consumers can trade up with confidence through the range, which extends from inexpensive brands up to highly regarded, expensive fine wines. As a wine lover I remember beginning with Torres’ more commercial offerings, particularly the bright, fruity Viña Sol white and the surprisingly complex (for the price) Gran Sangre de Toro red. 

This is important, because it’s the less expensive wines that most people begin with, and if they are interesting, they’re much more likely to encourage people to fall in love with wine. For many people, wine will always just be wine, but for some, a latent interest will be sparked, and they’ll begin to enjoy wine for its intrinsic qualities, and then start exploring the diverse world of wine.

The Land train at the Torres winery

Torres’ base is in Penedes, Catalonia. Most of their range, with the exception of the fairly recent addition of wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, are from the region. My trip began at the main Torres winery in Penedès, where the Mas La Plana vineyard is situated.

A press on tracks under the massed wine tanks

This is a serious wine tourism destination, with a large visitors centre. It’s quite creative. As part of the tour, you get to stand in a multisensory ‘tunnel of the seasons’, and there’s also a land train that takes visitors through the large winery. 

The Torres family are in the process of a succession. Miguel Torres is now at a stage where he is able to hand over to his son, Miguel, who has previously been overseeing Miguel Torres Chile. The other foreign outpost of Torres is Miguel’s sister Marimar’s Sonoma winery (based in Sonoma, California).

Torres was founded in 1870 as a bodega opposite the railway station in Vialfranca. The Coronas trade mark was registered in 1907, but it wasn’t until 1940 that the first Torres wines were sold in bottle, rather than in bulk. The famous Viña Sol was first released in 1947, and Sangre de Toro followed in 1954. Recent additions to the Torres range have been the Priorat wine Salmos (2007), a Rioja called Ibéricos (2009), and an alcohol-free wine Natureo (2009).

In this mini-series, I’m going to begin here with notes on two of the top wines, Fransola and Mas La Plana. Then I’ll take you to three of Torres’ best properties: Milmanda (Conca de Barberà), Salmos (Priorat) and Jean Leon (Penedès). 

Fransola is one of Spain’s top white wines, in my opinion. It’s usually 100% Sauvignon Blanc, but in some vintages a little Paralleda might be used. It’s from a high 550 m vineyard in Penedès which has clay soils. The clay soils are important, because Sauvignon doesn’t like drought, and they help retain water in the dry Mediterranean climate. The maturity window ofSauvignon here is pretty short, so it needs to be picked at the right time. Some oak is used in fermentation.

Torres Fransola 2010 Penedes, Spain
Rich and aromatic with a nice toasty edge t the peach and pear fruit. Lively and spicy with nice texture and a hint of grapefruit. Bold and rich but still fresh wuth some creaminess. Seductive. 92/100

Torres Fransola 2011 Penedes, Spain
A slightly cooler year. Fresh , linear pear and citrus fruit. Quite rich with lively, spicy citrus fruits keeping things fresh. Nice texture here with a hint of pithiness. 93/100

Mas La Plana is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Mas La Plana vineyard around the cellar. One of the older Cabernet Sauvignons from Spain, it was first planted by Torres in 1966. Between 6 and 15 000 cases are made each year. This is the new-ish name for the famous Gran Coronas Black Label. In 1979 the 1970 Black Label won the Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad in Paris, fighting off competition from the likes of Latour and Haut-Brion.  

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Penedès, Spain
Rich in colour, this has a hint of roast coffee on the nose. Bold and dense on the palate with rich blackcurrant and plum fruit, nice intensity, some grippy tannins and subtle minty notes, as well as some spicy oak. A big wine but fruit rather than oak driven. Primary. 94/100

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Penedès, Spain
Fresh, vivid and well defined with backward, brooding blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Grippy tannins and well integrated oak add structure. Lots of potential for development. 92/100

Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Penedès, Spain
Lovely rich, spicy blackcurrant fruit aromatics. Deliciously vivid, ripe and supple with sweet, smooth blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Beginning to open out with lovely ripe, well defined fruit. Pure and supple. 94/100

Torres Reserva Réal ‘RVR’ Special Selection 2009 Penedès, Spain
From the 5 hectare Santa Margarita vineyard, which has very small stones in it, almost sand-like. This is a blend of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Supple, brooding, mineral and structured with dense blackberry and black cherry fruit, and smooth, firm structure. Firm tannins don’t detract from the elegance, and this wine combines size with beauty. There are hints of coffee, gravel, tar and chocolate. Ripe, dense, spicy and linear. Needs a lot of time but will be beautiful. 96/100


Wines tasted 07/12  
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