The viticultural history of Penedes can be traced back to Phoenicians who were plying the Mediterranean Sea from their base in Tyre (Lebanon). They were not only trading, but also looking for suitable agricultural land, including vineyards.
Greeks and Romans enriched the industry established by Phoenicians. Today, Penedes is one of the most important wine producing regions of Spain.
Amongst the largest and quality-oriented wineries is Torres, a winery started by Jaime Torres in the first half of the 18th century. By 1870 Torres was exporting to many European countries and the Americas, particularly Cuba.
Eventually, brandies were added to the repertoire.
They have become important since 1828 when Jaime Torres Vendrell started aging them in Limousine oak barrels imported from France.
Torres started to gain worldwide fame and expansion with Miguel A. Torres who took over winemaking early 1970’s after graduating from L’Ecole d’Oenology in Dijon, Burgundy. Today, the winery produces some 20 million bottles, and owns and operates a winery in Chile’s Curico Valley (1979).
Marimar Torres established a 25-hectare vineyard with a custom built winery (1983) in California’s Sonoma County (Green Valley).
As of 2012 Torres ships to 80 countries all over the world, although its enviable reputation came after Gran Coronas Reserva 1975 won a gold medal during a blind tasting in Paris (1979), beating the cream of the crop of Bordeaux chateaux.
So incredulous were the judges that they demanded and got a second blind tasting which confirmed the results. Since then Miguel Torres has been busy establishing vineyards on high altitudes in Central- and Upper Penedes to take advantage of cooler weather.
Here chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and gewürztraminer are planted to obtain suitable fruit for aromatic and balanced wines. In addition, moscatel de grano meudo, chenin blanc, muscat of Alexandria, and parellada are grown for blending, and dessert wines
For red wines, Torres uses cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, carinena (carignane), garnacha tinta (grenache), merlot, monstrell, pinot noir and tempranillo. Some are planted on lower- others on middle- or central and yet others like pinot noir and cabernet franc on Upper Penedes Valleys. All vineyards have been selected bearing in mind the grape variety, soil conditions, and climate.
Results have been most encouraging and Torres wines win important and influential international awards regularly. Under the guidance of Miguel, who studied first chemical engineering at the University of Barcelona late 1950’s, and culminated his formal education in Dijon (1962), the winery has been expanding, and both the quality ad packaging of all products have improved.
In 1984 he bought a 250-hectare property in Chile, and now produces substantial quantities of fine wines for both internal markets and import. His first book on wine was published in 1977; it was subsequently revised and expanded in 1994. In 1997 Miguel write and published his first book on Spanish wines; this too was revised and expanded (1982), and translated to English (1983).
He is credited with reviving an ancient indigenous grape (garrut). It possesses a peppery taste similar to that of syrah (Rhone Valley) and shiraz (Barossa Valley). Torres produces a wide range of wines, the best of which are single-vineyard bottling like Gran Coronas Reserva Mas la Plana (a cabernet sauvignon) and Milmanda (mostly chardonnay).
Other recommended Torres wines are: San Valentin, Waltraud, Vina Sol, Gran Vina Sol, Vina Esmeralda, Fransola (all white), and Coronas, Sangre de Toro, Las Torres, Vina Magdala, Gran Coronas, Gran Sangre de Toro and Mas Barras.
Torres brandies represent particularly good value. Solera Selecta, Torres 10, Frontenac Miguel Torres, Miguel I Gran Reserva, and Honorable (aged in Limousine barrels and blended using the sherry solera system (fractional blending). The brandies of this blend have been aged for a minimum of 25 years, and many longer.
Presently Torres Penedes cultivates 1300 hectares, Torres Sonoma County 35 hectares, and Torres Chile 230 hectares. By all accounts, Miguel Torres has contributed significantly to the overall reputation of Spanish wisent worldwide, and made the winery more progressive than ever before.
Torres wines are available in most Canadian provinces.