22-12-2011

Catalan wine pioneer takes on Gobal Warming

The Wall Street Journal’s Will Lyons published a short, but great interview with Miguel A. Torres the president and managing director of Bodega Torres. For those who aren’t familiar with it, this a Catalan winery that is pretty much responsible for the current wine scene in Catalonia that eschews the gigantic bulk approach of Rioja in favor of more craft wines.

Obviously with wineries on three continents and distribution to 140 countries in the world, Torres is not a small, craft winery anymore. But, they led the way that has seen the growth of 12 DO’s (official wine regions) in Catalonia which is now a booming business that was once just primarily targeted at German/Dutch tourists to indulge in.

But, the past is the past and what’s most interesting is how Miguel looks to the future, especially in regards to Global Warming and how it is affecting wine grape production. Unlike the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter that Napa didn’t really ever want to talk about, Miguel is quite open about the future of vineyards in Catalonia:

Pointing to a map of Catalonia, he shows how the company has in recent years been buying vineyards in Tremp, a two-hour drive north from the estate’s headquarters in Vilafranca del Penedès. Here, crucially, the vineyards sit 1,000 meters above sea level, the cool air preventing the grapes from suffering the extreme heat now experienced in the Mediterranean basin. “In the future, we will abandon the coastal vineyards,” he says. “They will disappear and we will move to the central valley.”

It’s hard to believe that there are still so many people convinced that Global Warming is some kind of a myth or hippie conspiracy theory. Here is a winery that’s making a huge business decision based on the fact that it’s well, a fact and they want to stay in business for some time to come. Of course, Miguel notes that even this is just something of a stopgap measure if things continue they way they are:

“The new plantings will improve the quality for another 20 or 30 years,” he says. “After that, God knows.”

It makes one wonder how well a lot of the new wineries in Catalonia are going to fare, especially those who have invested heavily in coastal vineyards such as Martín Faixó, Mas Estela, and many others. While making for staggering beautiful vineyards, one can only hope that we deal with the side effects of our industrialized world soon or, as Torres predicts, many of these smaller producers might very well cease to exist.

WINES

Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
92 2 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars