I’ve been visiting Torres today, one of Spain’s strongest wine brands, making not only very good commercial wines, but also some fairly serious high end wines, too.
I spent some time with the boss, Miguel Torres, and also with Marimar Torres who is based in the USA and runs Marimar Estate, in Sonoma, California.
One of the impressive things about Miguel is that he is very scientific in his approach, asking questions and doing original research. I got to see some of the Torres research projects in action.
Torres are concerned about their environmental impact, and one of the projects I was shown by in-house scientist Eudald Crivillés was all about algae.
The idea is to take the carbon dioxide from fermentation and allow algae to consume it, and then use these algae either as fertilizer, or extract some useful by-product from them. It is some way from being operational, but it’s an interesting concept.
Torres are also collaborating with university scientists to look at the effect of different temperatures and different irrigation regimes, in combination, on vine growth and grape parameters. The four-year project has just finished but the results are not yet public.
In another trial they are looking at the effect of netting to reduce direct sunlight on the vines to see if this can increase grape quality. They are finding that the netting needs to be introduced midway through the growing season or the fertility of the vine the following year is diminished.
They are also looking at reintroducing lost local grape varieties. Adverts have been placed in newspapers to try to find old vineyards with now almost extinct varieties in them. They then take cuttings, produce virus-free plants, and plant them and see what they produce.
I also saw an experimental vineyard growing lots of different varieties, including the ancient ones, and also rootstock varieties. It was really interesting to see rupestris du lot, a rootstock vine, with phylloxera galls on the leaves. These vines have learned through evolution to live with phylloxera; Vitis vinifera can’t, and is killed.