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2004 Mas la Plana, Torres, Penedès
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Torres is Spain's largest family-owned producer of wine and Spanish brandy. The Torres family owns more than 2,200 acres of vineyards in Penedes in North East Spain, as well as properties in Chile and California.
The present company was founded on 1870 with the fruits of a chance investment by Jaime Torres in a Cuban Oil company. A winery was established at Vilafranca del Penedes near Barcelona and its wines were shipped to Cuba by the Torres Fleet. Juan Torres (nephew and heir to Jaime Torres) expanded the business within Spain quite considerably and left the family business to his son Miguel in 1932. After confiscation, disruption and even winery destruction during the Spanish Civil War, Miguel rebuilt the business and as early as the 1950's decided to concentrate on selling wine in bottle rather than in bulk.
In 1959, Miguel's son Miguel A. Torres went to study in Dijon. This rapidly resulted in in experimental plantings of vine varieties imported from France and Germany, as well as also introducing the trellis system . In 1991 Miguel A. Torres became president of the company with particular responsibilities for wine-making. He is also one of Spain's most prolific wine writers and runs the 220-ha estate near Churico in Chile, which he established in 1978. His sister, Marimar manages the 56-ha vineyard in Sonoma, California.
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.
Penedès’s fame rests chiefly on its Cava sparkling wine (which was awarded its own Denominación de Origen in 1991). White grape varieties dominate, but the region also offers a host of well-made red wines, although in this category it has yet to catch up, in status and in price, with its illustrious neighbour Priorat.
IIn the 1960s and 1970s, Penedès wines were revolutionised through the efforts of Miguel Torres Carbó and his son Miguel A. Torres, the now internationally-famous wine (and brandy) producers in the heart of the region at Vilafranca del Penedès.
Torres are credited with the modernisation of winemaking in the region (being the first to introduce temperature-controlled fermentation and maturation in small oak casks), as well as with the successful experimentation with international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Penedès Wine Sub-RegionsPenedés is divided into three sub-regions: Bajo Penedés, Medio Penedés and Alto Penedés (corresponding to the Spanish words for lower, middle and upper).
Bajo Penedés borders the coastline, and is the hottest sub-region, traditionally the source of Malvasía and Moscatel de Alejandría (Muscat d’Alexandria) grapes for sweet fortified wines, that have been gradually supplanted by the classic Spanish red grape varietals, Garnacha, Tempranillo (called here by its Catalan name Ull de Llebre), Cariñena and Monastrell (Mourvedre), not to mention Cabernet Sauvignon.Medio Penedés, separated from the coast by stretches of low-lying hills, enjoys a cooler climate than Bajo Penedés, and is the most prolific wine sub-region (with 60 percent of the total Penedés grape output), primarily devoted to the production of the base wine used for Cava. White grape varietals dominate here, in particular Xarel-lo, Macabeo (Viura) and Parellada. Medio Penedés is the base of several famous Cava producers such as Freixenet and Codorniu.
At 600 to 800 metres above the sea, Alto Penedés (aka Penedés Superior) is the highest of the three sub-regions and provides an ideal micro-climate for white grapes to thrive. These include Riesling, Muscat of Alexandria, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and the native Parellada.
Cava production in Penedès
Cava blends are made of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo, and increasingly include a proportion of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cava sparkling wines must be made according to the "Traditional Method" (second fermentation in the bottle), and are required by law to have a minimum of nine months’ bottle ageing following the fermentation. Over 90 percent of Spanish Cava comes from the Penedès region.