Catalonia day 4

On agenda for the fourth day was Penedes. Our first stop was Torres. This producer is probably known for most of you and especially in Finland people are very familiar with wines from Torres. Examples of wines that have been sold in Alko for a long time is Sangre de Toro, Coronas, Gran Coronas and Mas la Plana.

We checked out from the hotel and left Gratallops and started our trip to the heart of Penedes. The distance was about 100 km and it took about 1 h 15 minutes. When we arrived at their parking place it was easy to see that this was something completely different than the small producers we had visited so far. There were already several buses and a lot of cars.

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We went in to their main building that was very big. We had arrived in good time and had some time to visit their shop that was located in the same building. There they had a lot of different wines and most of them I had not even seen before. I thought we have a lot of Torres wines in Finland, but in the shop they were selling much much more.

After a while our guide arrived and it was a big surprise that she was from Finland. Her name was Kati and she has been living in Catalonia for about six years. After a short introduction we moved to the “cinema” where they showed a 15 minutes movie about Torres describing their history, their current situation and also focus on the environment. After the movie we moved to a kind of 3D movie where they showed what happens in the vineyards during one year. When this was finished a train drove in and when seated to the cabins me were starting our tour.

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Our first stop was their “new” cellar that was taken into use 2007. In the cellar they showed a movie and they have used a lot of the most recent technology and it was clear that they were really trying to make an impression on the people visiting their winery. They have used different lights and you could hardly imagine that you are in a wine cellar. It is quite difficult to see from the pictures, but this was clearly something special. After visiting the cellar we went out with the train and then we left the train and made the rest of the tour by foot.

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We moved to the VIP building where they can arrange seminars, tastings etc. Next to the VIP building there was a separate building where they were only showing how much focus they put on the environment. It is clear that they care about the nature and they try to do what is possible in order to save the nature. This was quite surprising after hearing that they have a total areal of about 1 800 hectares. Torres is a producer that earns a lot of money, but they do care of our planet and this is a very good thing. The opposite would be that they would only maximize the amount of money they can earn but this is obviously not the case.

Then it was time to see the real process. There was a big amount of tanks in different sizes and my personal feeling was that this looked more like a typical chemical plant than a winery. Maybe this has something to do with my background?

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After seeing part of the process we had a look at their bottling lines and there was a nonstop bottling going on more like what you are used to see at breweries. Our final destination was their old cellar. This was partly closed and only acting like a tourist attraction, but part of that was still in use and even there were a lot of barrels. The train picked us up from the cellar and we drove through their warehouse where they store the bottles. This was huge and there were bottles everywhere. This was our final stop in when visiting Torres.

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We went back to the bus and left the vinery and drove to their restaurant that was located a few kilometres away. As we were quite much behind schedule we had to do the tasting as a fast track version. We got eight wines to taste and we did it very fast, perhaps in about 15 minutes. This was not the optimal, but as we were going to have lunch as well there was no other option. This went, however, quite well and here is a list of the wines:

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Pazo das Bruxas 2013 (Albariño)

Cordillera Chardonnay 2012 (Chile)

Viña Esmeralda 2012

Reserva de Pubol 2012

“La Masia” Pinot Noir, Don Miguel Vineyard 2010

Celeste Crianza 2011

Salmos 2011 (Priorat)

Mas La Plana (2010)

I made some notes, but due to lack of time they were not that extensive and I will not post any more detailed information here.

After the tasting in the restaurant we moved to another room that was ready for our group. There was a menu on the table that was made for our group and this menu described all the courses, but also the wines that we were going to drink together with the food.

During the lunch we were drinking the following wines:

Gran Viña Sol 2013

Altos Ibéricos 2011

Gran Coronas 2010

Moscatel Floralis

In total we were going to taste 12 of Torres wines and I think this was a good opportunity to get more familiar with the producer although many people knew at least some of their wines from the past. Here follows some pictures from the lunch and wines we had during the lunch. I will not explain them more in detail, but as always a picture described much more than words.

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When we were just ending our lunch something happened that I could only dream of. I just looked out from the room and then I saw a man that looked very familiar and this was Miguel Torres himself. I could not believe that this was true, but soon he entered the room. At that point the room was totally quiet and everybody was just looking and thinking what will happen next. Mr Torres walked to Felix and was talking with us and Felix for a short while and then he left. This was something that I would never have expected that would happen, but it was the highlight of the day. This is perhaps a small thing for him to come and visit us when we were having lunch, but at least for me this was very nice and I appreciate this a lot. I would never have imagined that he would take the time and come and visit our group. This once again shows that Torres is a family run company and they are focusing on the right things and not only focusing on making big money. For me this changed the whole way of thinking about them to meet Miguel Torres is something really special at least for a wine enthusiast from Finland this means a lot.

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After lunch our next stop was Jean Leon. This is a very interesting producer that also make good wines. Jean Leon was born as Ceferino Carrión in Santander in Spain and moved to the United States in 1951 where he settled down in Los Angeles. When he was 17 he started his career in Villa Capri in Hollywood where he worked in the restaurant until 1956. At that time he opened his own restaurant La Scala in Beverly Hills. This restaurant was opened in partnership with James Dean and it was for a long time a place where people from the movie industry used to eat. He moved back to Spain where he founded his own winery Chateau Jean Leon in 1963. His winery was one of the first wineries to pioneer the concept of a ”single vineyard estate”, virtually unheard of during the Franco years and religious cooperatives. This concept is called ”Pago” and is still not the norm in Spain. Jean Leon also broke tradition by importing French grape varietals, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. He believed that these grapes suited the balmy Mediterranean climate perfectly.

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At Jean Leon we had a nice tasting and I must admit that their wines are good. They are presenting this whole concept in a “Hollywood” way and this probably attracts a lot of tourists, but the good thing is of course the high quality. Today the winery is owned by Torres.

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After we had ended our visit to Jean Leon we left the village and headed to Sitges where we were going to spend three nights. This was a nice place next to the sea. We had dinner in a restaurant at the beach and the dinner consisted of Paella. It tasted very good and after that it was time to go to sleep. I think that we had once again had a very interesting day.

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After the fourth day we were going to spend the next day partly doing also the cultural part and not only wine tasting. More of that will follow soon.

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