May 18: A select group of wine journalists, F&B professionals and wine aficionados were invited last Saturday to an exclusive event at the Hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi, hosted by Prestige Wines and Familia Torres – a Master Class and Vertical Tasting of the history-making Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon, led by the legendary Miguel Torres visiting India after 3 years, reports Natasha Vohra, Asst. Editor delWine, who had the honour of meeting the great man and tasting three vintages of this elegant ‘Black Lady’ among more than a dozen other wines from the Torres stable
One of my personal favourite wines is the elegant Mas La Plana (MLP) from the Familia Torres winery. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it does more than one dance on your palate and even the newer vintages cannot fail to charm you and leave you wanting more. Thanks to Prestige Wines, this beauty as well as several other prominent names from the Torres stable, is now available in India.
But I got the rare opportunity not only to get up close and personal with these fabulous wines at a vertical tasting of the legendary MLP (2006, 2010, 2012), but also had the honor of meeting the legend himself, Miguel A. Torres. The patriarch of Familia Torres was in India for a brief visit, after a gap of 3 years and personally led a Masterclass on Mas La Plana as well as a fascinating presentation on the current status of the vast Torres family empire.
We were all welcomed late afternoon on Saturday May 12, 2018 at Le Cirque at the Hotel Leela Palace in New Delhi, with a glass of perfectly chilled Viňa Esmeralda. A blend of 85% Moscatel and 15% Gewurztraminer, the light and easy drinking wine had floral notes, a hint of citrus and a surprisingly long aftertaste; a perfect quaff on a stuffy, hot summer day.
Mr. Torres arrived before all the guests had a glass in their hands and made it a point to meet every single person in the room and spare a moment to chat and graciously pose for photographs before we adjourned to an elegantly set up tasting room in the main restaurant area.
Drinking Wine in Moderation
Before the much anticipated tasting of the Mas La Plana, Mr. Torres led us through a fascinating presentation on the Torres family empire and all they strongly stand for as a family business. According to Miguel, one of his main goals is to separate wine from all other alcohol. And while he strongly encourages wine as a healthier option, he is equally firm about advising people to drink it in moderation.
The Torres family is deeply connected to their land and fully understands the danger of global warming and what it means for the future of their wines. Miguel says that they have already witnessed the changes that a rise in global temperatures of even 1 degree, can have on their grapes. He is keenly aware of the challenges that climate change will hold for viticulture and foresees a very tough time ahead, and this drives them to look 20-30 years into the future. To that end, they are taking several measures like buying vineyards at higher altitudes and studying alternatives for future varietals that can flourish in an assured shortage of water in future.
The most impressive part of their strategy is their commitment to sustainable growth and preserving the environment, summed up by their targeted goal of “Zero Emissions Cellars within 10-15 years” and their immediate goal is to reduce 30% of their emissions by 2020 by experimenting with techniques like CO2 Capture and Reuse (CCR), methanation and working with cyclic organic carbonates.
The presentation was followed by a beautifully filmed video featuring the entire Torres clan, which Miguel admits brings a tear to his eyes every time he sees it!
Verticals of Mas La Plana
By this time, the quietly efficient staff at Le Cirque had ensured that everyone had the three vintages, 2006, 2010 and 2012 of the MLP in front of them and Miguel encouraged us to taste them all and arrive at our own conclusions before opening up the tasting for discussion.
The silky tannins and elegance of this wine owe their origin to the unique terroir of the Middle Penedes region (where the grapes are grown in mere 29 hA of vineyeards!) with yellowish grey-brown alluvial soils at an altitude of 225m, made up of inter-bedded layers of gravel, sand and clay. What makes it even more remarkable is the fact that it is a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, which is not easy to come by (most are usually blended with a percentage of other varietals). The unique Mas Le Plana is the wine that put Spain on the world map when it triumphed over some of the best French wines in the world at the Gault Millau blind tasting in Paris in 1979.
The 2012 vintage, while putting many other wines to shame, is still a bit young and could do with several years in a cellar. Even for such a young wine, there is no hint of a ‘green’ character because the grapes are also meticulously a 100% de-stemmed. The 2010 had a distinctly more complex bouquet, attributed to particularly cold weather that year, that helped the grapes mature slowly and gradually, which benefits the aromatic potential.
The piece de resistance was the MLP 2006, with its impossibly smooth tannins, rich, jammy tones and a well rounded mouthfeel. This is the wine you want to savor very slowly and after opening a bottle, put any others away for a further 30 years! The vertical tasting of the three vintages was a testimonial to the consistently high quality of MLP, and the general age-worthiness of the wines. It was a treat and a revelation to be able to taste all three wines simultaneously and discover the differences in each.
The Masterclass was followed by a walk-around tasting of several other wines from the Torres stables across Chile and Spain. There were three separate stations manned by a trained sommelier each and we were able to taste close to 20 different wines at leisure. The whites included Fransola Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Viňa Sol 2015, Mas Rabell 2016, Hemisferio Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc, San Valentin 2016, more of the earlier served Viňa Esmeralda and a Rose as well- De Casta 2016. The reds included Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Altos Ibericos Crianza from Rioja, Atrium Merlot 2016, Coronas Tempranillo 2014, Sangre de Torro 2016, Hemisferio Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Digna Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.
The Familia Torres has developed strong ties with India since 1995 and see it as a vital market on the world wine stage, and to that end, many of the above mentioned wines are now available in India. After such a fabulous introduction- to a mere fraction of the sheer number of brands they produce, one can only hope that we may soon have access to many more!
Salud! Jai Ho!!
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