Wine

“TORRES, Tapas and Toro”: What Winemakers Want

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Asador is the Spanish word for Barbeque. This June, as I sat at one of those in the Spanish wine country of La Rioja savouring the Patatas Riojana and Vine Grilled Lamb Rack, the wine to accompany was extra special. Not only because it was one of the finest from the Torres stable, but also due to the winemaker himself giving us company at lunch! As I took the first sip of  Altos Ibéricos  Crianza 2011, with Julio Carreter de Granda, the Manager and Winemaker at Torres winery in La Rioja,  the instant thought that came to my mind was- how would Julio rate his own wine outside the hallowed precincts of his winery? How did he think his wine had moved- in the right or the wrong direction?

At Asador Jose Mari with Julio, Emma Llorens (Brand Ambassador Torres) and Shalini Kumar (Editor Spiritz Magazine)
At Asador Jose Mari with Julio, Emma Llorens (Brand Ambassador Torres) and Shalini Kumar (Editor Spiritz Magazine)
Julio pouring his wine for tasting at the Torres winery at La Rioja
Julio pouring his wine for tasting at the Torres winery at La Rioja
Patatas Riojana
Patatas Riojana
Vine Grilled Lamb Rack
Vine Grilled Lamb Rack

Having tasted the same wine just an hour ago with Julio, the question became all the more relevant, and I popped it out to him without delay. The answers came pronto giving an instant peep into the winemaker’s mind. However, my inquisitiveness had some more miles to it, and on the way back to Barcelona, I decided to pose the same question to another winemaker Montserrat Catasús Asenjo whom I was scheduled to meet the following day at the Torres winery at Pacs del Penedès. What followed was a revelation of sorts but on the much anticipated lines of wine handling, transportation and the final value derived by the end consumer. Interestingly it made me conclude that a winemaker is like a film star who sees his/her own face on the hoardings only to imagine the original photoshoot – to be  either delighted or disappointed on account of many variables that come into play from studio to the billboard.

The candid conversation with Julio and Montse  as follows, confirmed the same. Over to Julio and Montse for  the remaining post..

Montse passionately explaining the making of her wines at Torres winery in Pacs del Penedes
Montse passionately explaining the making of her wines at Torres winery in Pacs del Penedes

Name: Julio Carreter de Granda
Job Title: Manager and Wine Maker
Company: Soto de Torres

Julio amid his vineyards in La Rioja with the Cantabrian mountain ranges in the backdrop
Julio amid his vineyards in La Rioja with the Cantabrian mountain ranges in the backdrop

My Wine:

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Altos Ibéricos : Deep cherry colour. Intense nose with traces of plum and black fruit compote accompanied by dark-roasted spice notes from ageing in barrel. Sweet on the attack with mild tannins. The impression of fruit along with soft tannins make it a great match for all kinds of tapas. This sets it apart from the classic local wines that are more strongly defined by oak.

My best experiences with my  wines elsewhere

When it has been served with the right food and in right condition. Altos Ibéricos has been created specifically with the latest trends in avant-garde cuisine in mind.  The soft tannins and exquisite fruit combine perfectly with all types of tapas prepared with fresh ingredients, including red meat, oily fish and cheese. It is absolutely exquisite with cured meats. Hence it is necessary that apart from the right condition it is served at the right temperature of 14-16°C.

And my worst experiences

When the wine is served without any time in bottle or when the temperature is unduly high (in any case it should not go upwards of 18 °C). Some time in bottle is very important. All components of the wine will be more integrated and there will be more harmony and soft tannins. If the temperature is very high, the wine will like more alcoholic and less fresh.

Given an opportunity, what would I change between the wine leaving the winery and being served to the consumer.

I would like to have lesser agents or intermediaries between the winery and the consumer. Direct contact with the consumer is necessary for a personal touch as  also for reducing the extent of handling and storing of wine at different points. Given a chance, I would also want to make it more affordable to the consumer by trimming undesirable costs.

Name: Montserrat Catasús Asenjo (Montse)
Job Title:  Winemaker
Company: Miguel Torres SA

Montse alongside the fermentation vats at Torres' Pacs del Penedès winery
Montse alongside the fermentation vats at Torres’ Pacs del Penedès winery

My Wines:

Gran Sangre De Toro, Gran Coronas and  Atrium.

I work in a team comprising of Joan Calvet (Team Leader) and Montse Rossell and Enric Ginesta (fellow oenologists).

Gran Sangre de Toro

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High colored wine of intense violet rim and steely tones with floral aromas of violets, spice and subtle hints of strawberry. Nice entry on the palate with good structure and a fresh finish.

The combination of Syrah and Garnacha with a touch of Cariñena is typical of the new world’s wines (Australia) and southern France (Côtes du Rhone). In its elaboration, we are looking for the new and old wine world complexity. On the one hand, we have the fruitiness, and on the other, the structure and fat texture in the mouth.

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Atrium Merlot

Medium bodied with rounded tannins and red fruit flavors.

The key to this wine is the maceration and fermentation at 20°C. This allows us to get round tannins and preserve the fruitiness of Merlot. Finally, the personality of the wine is rounded with the light touch of the barrel.

Gran Coronas

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Great complex aromas with spicy notes, black pepper and cloves with a background of forest fruits and dried leaf. Its passage through the mouth is ripe and candied, with structured tannins and good concentration. It could be defined as a silky elegance wine.

Made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo varieties, it can compete with both, the Bordeaux  and the big Spanish wines. The wine has two emblematic varieties of each of these countries that work together with unparalleled synergy

My best experiences with my wines elsewhere

My best experience is when I taste Atrium at 15°C, Gran Coronas and Gran Sangre de Toro at 17°C, with a good glass and with a nice food pairing. For example; Atrium with Cod, prunes and pine nuts. Gran Coronas could be paired with Magret de Canard and finally, Gran Sangre de Toro goes very well with Confit de Canard.

And my worst experiences

When I taste the wine either too cold, at less than 12-13°C or too hot, maybe at more than 19-20°C. It’s also a bad experience to taste it with a wrong food pairing or with a non-appropriate glass.

Given an opportunity, what would I change between the wine leaving the winery and being served to the consumer.

I think the perfect conservation of the wine is really important. Some wines are badly conserved, mostly during the transport or during the storage in the different shops or restaurants; with too much direct light, high temperature, vibrations, bad humidity, etc. All these things are very important, because if we don’t take proper care, the wine could change immensely.

Torres wines are imported in India by Prestige Wines and Spirits Pvt Ltd
Current Delhi retail prices of wines listed in this post are:
Altos Ibéricos Rs. 2150.00, Gran Sangre de Toro Rs. 2000.00, Atrium Merlot Rs. 2000.00, Gran Coronas Rs. 2400.00

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This story has been published in the Sept 2014 edition of Spiritz Magazine.

Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe
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