Tasting with Miguel Torres

Last month, I attended a tasting with Miguel Torres, head of the Torres wine brand and a legend in the wine world. The tasting held at the Porthouse Ibericos, Dundrum, Dublin, showcased wines from the Torres Spanish portfolio.

Torres is a brand that everyone will be reasonably familiar with because the wines appear on almost every supermarket, convenience store and wine shop shelf in Europe. Despite their market presence, I could’ve counted on one hand the amount of different Torres wines I’d tasted before this event and deep down I suppose I wondered whether there could be anything really exciting or interesting to be found in such a broad and well-known portfolio. I’m happy to report my pre-conceptions were, in the main, unfounded. Almost all of the wines tasted were enjoyable expressions of  their grape and region and, to my mind at least, seemed very competitively priced. Two wines in particular really grabbed my attention though.

Salmos 2009 (Garnacha Tinta, Syrah and Carinena, RSP €24.89) – I really liked this wine with its nose of sweet, ripe bramble fruits and spices. Although I thought it was ever so slightly hot on the finish alcohol-wise, this didn’t detract from the enjoyable and persistent, brooding blackberry fruit characteristic that emerged on the palate.

Mas La Plana 2007 (Cabernet Sauvignon, RSP €37.95) – Despite the famous reputation of this wine, it was one of the offerings from the portfolio that I hadn’t tasted previously. The 2007 vintage showed smoky blackcurrant, plum and damson fruits all enveloped by warming oak spices and gentle, but chewy tannins. Excellent. Amazingly, Tesco were recently selling this for €15 a bottle in Ireland if you bought six*, which seems absolutely astonishing value for a wine of this quality.

The real highlight of the tasting for me was chatting to Miguel about the direction of the Torres brand. I’ve written before about the passion winemakers have for the environment, but with Miguel Torres this was on another level entirely. Already buying land at higher altitudes in anticipation of  temperature shifts in the years ahead, Miguel was heading off after the tasting to speak at The Observer’s Festival of Ideas to address the delegates on the future of wine in the context of global warming.

I also picked Miguel’s brain on the reduced alcohol Natureo white wine (0.5% alc). I had heard a little about this wine previously and naively assumed that this might be some sort of pious crusade to minimize alcohol intake among wine drinkers. I was refreshed to hear that Torres aren’t actually trying to change my drinking habits at all but instead are offering an alternative for people who can’t/don’t wish to consume alcohol. As I’m not a member of that cohort myself, I had never even considered the huge market share which could be captured by a winery producing high quality, low alcohol wine. Undoubtedly, many have tried such an approach before but after talking to Miguel for a while, and getting a sense of his enthusiasm for the project, I’m willing to lay a bet on who will be the first to succeed!

Image courtesy of Findlaters Wine and Spirit Group who organised this event. The Torres wines are widely available in Ireland.

Edit: *Multibuy discount, reduced price for individual bottles – €20