Showing posts with label Torres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torres. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2023

This Celeste Tempranillo, from the highest vineyard in Ribera Del Duero, is that little bit closer to wine heaven

This Celeste Tempranillo, from the highest vineyard in Ribera Del Duero, is that little bit closer to vinous heaven


Pago Del Cielo Celeste Crianza Ribera Del Duero (DO) 2019, 14.5% ABV, €19.95 Bradleys.

Made with the Tinto Fino variety, Celeste has been aged in French and American oak barrels for 12 months in the winery at 895 meters of altitude.


Tinto Fino is the name by which Tempranillo is known in the Wine region of Ribera Del Duero, a region in which it gets some great results. This Celeste has the familiar yet fascinating dark cherry robe, with a lighter rim. Intense concentrated aromas are a mix of fruit (dark berries), plus a whiff of cocoa and spice. The fruit and spice you meet again in a light and velvety palate. The wine is surprisingly easy-drinking with an elegant and pleasing finish.


Very Highly Recommended.


The winery, owned by the Torres family, is well pleased: “Celeste Crianza is an opulent, fruit-filled, full-bodied wine with intense colour that possesses the freshness, passion, and intensity of a star-filled night. This wine is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle. The flagship wine from the Pago del Cielo winery is one of DO Ribera del Duero’s most internationally famous wines.”


*************

Check my growing list of top wines for 2023

*************

Check out my Good Value Wine List here

***************


I mentioned the altitude of the winery in the opening sentence and there’s a good reason. Torres again: “In Ribera del Duero, the winery is located in Fompedraza at 895 metres above sea level, the highest elevation in the DO. This privileged location, with its spectacular landscape, boasts the ideal climate for making intensely aromatic red wines….it is one of the highest vineyards in the northern hemisphere, a high-altitude, complex land whose harsh climate produces exceptionally high-quality grapes.”


Given its smooth, silky tannins and fruit concentration, the wine pairs beautifully with all kinds of red meat, chorizo, and aged cheeses. Serve at 14–16ºC.


Pago Del Cielo, a Torres company, is a wine project that spans two privileged Spanish wine regions steeped in tradition, committed to quality, and with a deep passion for winemaking – Ribera del Duero and Rueda. Ribera del Duero is located in the Meseta Central or central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula.


Taking the opportunity here to repeat a few lines I used when reviewing the same company’s excellent Verdejo a few weeks back.


The more we care about the earth, the better our wine. That is the Torres motto that I first heard in 2015 and it was underlined in this Verdejo. So whether it is improving sustainability (turning vine cuttings into a source of energy), using solar panels or organic viticulture or their long-time commitment to fair trade, Torres contribute wherever they are, from Chile to California to Catalonia. The earth could do with more families, more companies like this.



Monday, September 18, 2023

Starry Starry Wine. A Very Highly Recommended Verdejo.

 Starry Starry Wine. A Very Highly Recommended Verdejo.



Pago Del Cielo Celeste Verdejo Rueda (DO) 2021, 13% ABV. 

€17.95 Bradley’s, Cork.


Our Verdejo has a brilliant pale gold colour. We were expecting fennel and green almonds in the aromas. One of us got the first but not the second while it was the other way around with the other side of the table! There is also a slight waft of floral notes. No shortage of flavour on the palate, (pineapple and pear), followed by a spray of lemon in the long and refreshing finish.


Really very happy with this refreshing wine. Very Highly Recommended. And very good value too by the way.


Torres is enthusiastic: “Produced at our winery in Villafranca del Duero, using a selection from our Verdejo parcels near the Duero River that offer more aromatic intensity and freshness.”


Pago Del Cielo, a Torres company, is a wine project that spans two privileged Spanish wine regions steeped in tradition, committed to quality, and with a deep passion for winemaking – Ribera del Duero and Rueda. The Rueda site is exceptionally picturesque and produces white wines that explore the most distinctive and authentic traits of the Verdejo variety.


*************

Check my growing list of top wines for 2023

*************

Check out my Good Value Wine List here

***************


Celeste Verdejo is a modern-style wine, fresh, and intensely aromatic. The estate-owned vineyards are handled with great care and respect in order to give this wine greater complexity and highlight the character of the variety from this particular zone.  Its altitude, relief, gravelly soils, and continental climate make this an ideal region in which to make white wines, especially from the Verdejo variety.


The more we care about the earth, the better our wine. That is the Torres motto that I first heard in 2015 and it was underlined in this Verdejo. So whether it is improving sustainability (turning vine cuttings into a source of energy) or using solar panels or organic viticulture or their long-time commitment to fair trade, Torres contribute wherever they are, from Chile to California to Catalonia. The earth could do with more families and more companies like this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The more we care about the earth, the better our wine. Torres talk the talk, walk the walk.

 

The more we care about the earth, the better our wine. Torres talk the talk, walk the walk.

Superb Tasting at Bradleys

Busy tasty for Findlater's Adrian McAleer (right)


In Dublin in 2015 Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, tipped off a small attendance at a tasting in the Westbury about a new wine on the horizon:  “Penedes is our hometown and by the way, watch out for a new wine from here next year. It will be called Purgatori, not because we are sinners!”


Purgatori (29.95) is from a historic estate in the heart of Les Garrigues (Lleida)  and the wine was an unlisted bonus and the star of the excellent tasting, led by Findlater’s Adrian McAleer, in Bradleys, North Main Street, Cork, last week.



It is an intense, beautiful cherry red colour. Seductive floral (red rose) and fruit (black cherry jam) aroma with notes of spices (clove) and exquisite undertones characteristic of the Mediterranean terroir (pine, carob, dried fruits). Warm and nervy, with a finish that is more vibrant than long, this blend of Cariñena and Garnacha is smooth and so well balanced.


Four wines were listed for the Bradleys tasting and I had tasted three of those in that Dublin event, including our starter wine, the Celeste Verdejo (17.95). That grape is one of my favourite whites and this is a modern-style wine, fresh, and intensely aromatic. “The estate-owned vineyards, close to the river Duero, are handled with great care and respect in order to give this wine greater complexity and highlight the character of the variety from this particular zone in DO Rueda.” A very good start indeed!



And it kept getting better.  The second white was the Pazo Das Bruxas (19.95), an Albarino that pays homage to the folklore and landscape of Galicia (the Celtic Spain). It tells the tale of the Galician witches said to have gathered in the woods, which surrounded some pazos or manor houses, to conjure up spirits with their dances and spells. Nourished by their energy, the sap or lifeblood then coursed through the vines, in the same way the Albariño grapes give life to this wine today. 


Aromas are seductive, floral (honeysuckle) and fruit (lemon rind, tangerine). Silky and juicy on the palate with exquisitely elegant, fragrant fruit persistence. Long and intense with a little bit of Torres magic!

Michael Creedon (right, Bradleys) and Adrian McAleer (Findlaters)


On to the reds with the Celeste Crianza (19.95) from Ribera Del Duero with its fascinating deep, dark cherry red colour. Intense, concentrated aromas of black fruit (blueberry jam), revealing notes of ripe figs and an exquisite smoky, mineral (graphite) streak. Velvety and flavourful on the palate with noble, fine-grained tannins. Oak aging endows the wine with fine notes of spices (bitter cocoa) and toast (roasted coffee).


Celeste Crianza is an opulent, fruit-filled, full-bodied wine with intense colour. This wine is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle. The flagship wine from the Pago del Cielo winery is one of DO Ribera del Duero’s most internationally famous wines. The grape is Tinto Fino, better known to most of us in Ireland as Tempranillo.



In Dublin in 2015, Miguel spoke of how they were recovering or recuperating forgotten grapes, not always successfully. “We have recuperated ancient Catalan varieties, 38 in all. Not all are good but six are top quality, very well adapted to a hot and dry climate”. Torres are also experimenting with growing vines at higher levels.


One of the successes, called Moneu, was part of the blend that made up our final “regulation” red at Bradleys. The other varieties in the Clos Ancestral (21.95) are Tempranillo and Garnacha. A very impressive wine indeed, delicious and elegant, the finesse and versatility allow for a variety of pairings with medium-aged cheeses and charcuterie, lean cuts of meat like sirloin or rump steak, and fish in cream or butter-based sauces. Ideal serving temperature: 14–16C.


The more we care about the earth, the better our wine. That is the Torres motto that I first saw in Dublin in 2015 and it was also displayed in Bradleys. So whether it is improving sustainability (turning vine cuttings into a source of energy) or using solar panels or organic viticulture or their long-time commitment to fair trade, Torres contribute wherever they are, from Chile to California to Catalonia. The earth could do with more families, more companies like this.

Lovely evening for it!


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Top Families. Top Wines. From Torres and Hugel.

Top Families. Top Wines. 

From Torres and Hugel.


Torres, a Spanish family, dedicated to wine for five generations and the Hugel family, that started making wine in the Alsace in 1639, produced our two excellent wines today.




Torres Altos Ibéricos Rioja Crianza (DOC) 2018, 14% ABV


While Torres is synonymous with wine in Spain, it was only in 2005 that they first purchased land in Rioja. This wine, first produced in 2007, is 100% Tempranillo and has spent 12 months in French and American oak. It bears the red crianza sticker (see below).


Not surprisingly, it is regarded as a modern interpretation of Tempranillo. Its amicable aromas, intense and fragrant, draw you in, more so than its 20th century counterparts.

Yours truly with
Miguel Torres.


That “lighter touch” continues on the well-rounded palate, where soft red fruits and sweet spices combine smoothly with the effects of its time in oak. The finish is long with a light spicy aftertaste. Very Highly Recommended.


The Tempranillo grape is Spain’s top variety. Best known for its Rioja expressions but grown in many regions of the country. Older Tempranillo goes well with the likes of steaks and burgers while fresher styles like this are best matched with “baked pasta and other tomato based dishes” according to Wine Folly.



Rioja red wine stickers:


The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.


The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.


The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.


The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.



  • This Rioja was a gift. The wine, imported by Findlaters (as is the Gentil), is widely available, including at Bradleys, North Main Street, Cork for €14.95.

*********

************************************************

Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


************************************************


Hugel Gentil Alsace (AOC) 2020, 13% ABV, €14.95 Bradleys.



Pale yellow with green tints is what you see in the glass. There are attractive aromas (including fruit, citrus and peaches, and floral elements). On the palate, it has a soft and supple feel, is full of flavour, dry and absolutely refreshing, with a great finalé. 


Lots of attractive features yet it is very versatile at the table, doesn’t overpower your food. Natalie MacClean recommends seared scallops, sushi, vegetables, herbed chicken, pork dishes, excellent too as an aperitif says our retailer Michael of Bradley’s. Very Highly Recommended.


Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled official standard.


It is Hugel’s only blend, dry and the ideal introduction to Alsace wines. It combines the elegance of Riesling, the richness of Pinot Gris, the fruitiness of Gewürztraminer and Muscat with the freshness of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. They are all here: “All the Alsace grapes in one glass”.


I’ve been very partial to Gentil in general for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). I met Jean Frédéric Hugel in Cork a few years back and he told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.


Other Gentils available locally include Meyer-Fonné and Trimbach.

Hugel & Fils, founded in 1639 in picturesque Riquewihr, Alsace, France, is still 100% family owned and managed by the 12th consecutive generation of the family.


Alsace enjoyed a very good year in 2020, so much so that “No late harvest wines were produced due to the ‘too good’ sanitary conditions which forbid the development of botrytis. “A cool and long growing season gives this unique dry wine great finesse and unequalled drinkability.” And that is well confirmed by this bottle, by the way, closed with DIAM “the cork without the risk of cork taint”.


  • More here on DIAM closures.

************************************************

Best Value Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


************************************************

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town


Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town
Part One: Hugel, Torres, and Chapoutier

Torres and Hugel were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Hugel
Wines of Alsace in the Montenotte, with the city in the background
I met a proper star at the Famille Hugel stand where I was greeted by none other than Jean Frédéric Hugel himself and a taste of their outstanding Gentil. Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled standard.

I’ve been very partial to it for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). Jean Frédéric told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.

Many shrug when climate change is mentioned but those closest to the ground - the farmers - know it is happening. Jean Frédéric referred to it as he offered me their 2009 Pinot Noir, “their simplest Pinot but from a great vintage, stellar”. Especially because of climate change, the quality of Pinot Noir in the northern regions, including Alsace of course, is incomparable to what it was twenty years ago.” Burgundy beware seems to be the message.

Back in the old days, Alsace was known for its sweet wines and, like Germany (after Liebfraumilch), it took it a while to regain the respect for its wine. “But we have learned from those mistakes and are now back on track as a region”. I think that has been the case for quite a while now.

This was well illustrated with a couple of excellent Rieslings, beginning with the 2016, “a textbook Riesling, very dry”.  The 2015 was very dry again, “even a little flinty, a little bit smoky.. just a little bit of age now but this will evolve well”.

I then spotted the unmanned  Chapoutier stand nearby and helped myself to the sip of the white: Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2017, quite aromatic, good acidity and with a long finish. The whites here are often under-appreciated. The winemaker’s motto by the way is “Enjoy. Don’t over-analyse.”


Chapoutier’s winery and negociant business is situated in the Rhone area (with vineyards further afield, including Australia). “Our own vineyards and the single vineyards that we select from are cultivated either organically or biodynamically.”  He is of course famous for his reds and had the Cotes de Rhone Collection Bio on show here. I previously did a little feature on him and you may read it here

Torres
With Miguel Torres (left) in Dublin
"The more we care about the earth,
 the better our wine"

Torres is a big company but it is still a family company. And concerned about the climate. Just like Hugel, they see what is happening to the earth. 

Less than four years ago, Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, spoke in Dublin saying the threats from climate change are been seen “more and more”. “Vineyards are very much at risk. Hailstorms are an example.” And they are doing something about it as you may read here in my article “Message in a bottle”

Lucas, whose parents are from Argentina, managed the Torres stand in the Montenotte and told me he had three different wines from different regions (plus one from Chile where the family is credited with reviving and transforming the industry). 

Torres are based in Penedes (near Barcelona) in the north east of Spain but our first wine was from the other side, an Albarino by Bruxas from Rias Baixas. No oak is used and it spends just six hours on lees. Very light, citrusy and refreshing with great acidity. “Very good with all seafood and goats cheese,” Lucas advised.

Torres seek out higher vineyards (climate change again a factor) and the grapes for the next wine, the Altos Ibericos, are grown between 400 and 700 metres above sea level in Rioja Alvesa. The altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. 

Sixteen months in French oak and two years in bottle qualifies this 2012 as Reserva. It is elegant, very smooth, with softer tannins. “As it ages, the tannins will soften more, the flavours will become more like dried fruit and the colour will fade a bit.” Good now and good in the future! Oh, by the way, it is one hundred per cent Tempranillo.

And another high vineyard featured in the story of our next wine, the Celeste Criaza 2016 from Ribera del Duero. The fruit is grown in the western part of the region at a height of 900 metres above sea level. It is more or less a continental climate and the diurnal range “is good, with cool nights”. And in cooler areas, the Tempranillo grape develops a thicker skin to help protect its valuable properties. Lucas described it as a fruit bomb but it is quite a rounded one, very drinkable indeed. Crianza means it has spent 12 months in French and US oak and 12 months on bottle before release.

So now to Chile and the old vines Manso de Velasco (grown close to the ocean), a superb Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013. It has spent 18 months in French oak, small barrels. It was a warm year and the abv is 13.5%. “Fruit flavours are of blackberries and cherries. Drink now,” Lucas says, “but it will last”. One to watch out for!

Jadot and Masi also featured; details here.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Grapes planted in 16th century. Now we get these two gems from Chile.

A Los Viñateros Bravos Volcánico País 2015 Itata (Chile), 12.5%, €22.90 Le Caveau, Bradley’s (Cork).

If you don’t like your wines big and bold and prefer light and delicate, then this is one to try.

Colour is pale Ruby, shimmering. 
Aromas of wild strawberries and hints too (I'm told) of the local vegetation.

Palate is fresh and light, vibrant, delicate red fruit flavours, touch of spice, distinctive and refreshing, smooth all the way to the finish. The granitic soils have a lot to say and tell here and, perhaps, that is why, or at least one reason, this wine reminds me of a good Beaujolais. A quiet friendly one and Very Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau say the fruit comes from very old vines (100 years and more) grown on volcanic soil that give it a mineral-y character. It is fermented and aged in concrete vats, the extraction is very subtle. The skins are basket pressed. The wine is then aged in large wood vessels and after 14 months is bottled with a very coarse filtration. 

The first País (also known, particularly in California, as the Mission grape) was brought by the conquistadors in the 1550s and, for centuries, the locals used it to make wines for themselves.

But bit by bit, the big companies began to use the big-name grapes and the ancient imports lost ground. Leonardo Erazo was one who wanted to reverse this trend, travelled the world for ten years to study wine and then came back and founded A Los Viñateros Bravos.

In Itata, Leonardo has worked with the scattered local farmers’ old vines—many well over 100 years, still growing as dry farmed, untrained small bushes—to enhance their traditional natural practices to align with biodynamic guidelines. His mission, throughout this journey, has been to bring a sense of place into the bottle. 

“In order to achieve that, we are working back into the organic viticulture (historically, a tradition here) with natural winemaking. We feel like we don’t need to fix nature but rather enhance its capabilities, thus to enhance its potential. We want wines full of life, vibrancy, tension and freshness.”


The Pais doesn’t have much of a status with the better-known wine commentators. For instance, Grapes and Wines blames the original Spanish Franciscan missionaries for not taking the trouble “to bring something better”. Leonardo Erazo is taking time and trouble and certainly bringing us something better!

Miguel Torres Reserva Ancestral Valle del Itata (Chile) 2014, 14.5%, €18.50 Marks and Spencer.
This blend of Cinsault (60%), País (25) and Carignan (15) has a deep ruby colour. There are fragrant aromas of plum, blackberry, some spice too. It is smooth, rich, juicy and fruity as it spreads across, tannins just about evident, and then a long dry finish. A warm and concentrated welcoming wine, ideal in autumn and winter. Very Highly Recommended.

Torres tell us this is produced from the fruit of 80-year old vines. These grape varieties were first brought to Chile by the early Spanish conquistadors around 500 years ago, so it is aptly named.

According to Wines of South America, Torres are dedicated to rediscovering “heritage” wines, based on traditional País, both in table red and sparkling bottlings.
All Torres vineyards in Chile have been organic since 1995 and this wine, a Platinum winner in Decanter 2017, is the inaugural vintage (fewer than 15,000 bottles) from these ancient vineyards.

Decanter called it a “friendly beast” with particular praise for its “lovely concentration”.This medium bodied wine is not meant for long-term keeping and you are advised to use it within five years. Try it with steak, charcuterie and empanadas.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s


Top Olive Oils at Bradley’s
Three very young oils

Bradley’s of North Main Street, Cork, are well known for their selection of fine wines. And, where there’s wine, there’s olive oil. Indeed, quite a few of the oils available here are made by top wine-makers including a few from Tuscany and Spain’s Torres.

Speaking of Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer there once told me that the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. In his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that the oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.




Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows. 

The one in 1985 was a disaster. The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took all of ten years to get a good crop again. So the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event. It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and they always cook with good oil. 

Fontodi Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a richly coloured oil from Tuscany, very delicately balanced. Fine aromas of artichoke leaf and an elegant peppery flavour come together in a fragrant lingering finish. The organically raised olives are picked by hand and carefully pressed the same day in order
to keep the fragrance. Read more here.  


The River Cafe I Canonici 2016 EVOO: also from Tuscany, this is an almost luminous green in its youth (as many of them are!); this bright oil is fragrant and very spicy with lovely fresh grass and green olive characters. Clean and bright it has tremendous depth of flavour right through to the long peppery finish.


Capazzana 2016: Organic and another Tuscan. Quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.




Alpha Zeta 2015 EVOO: Golden-green in colour with a light delicate perfume of fresh grass and ripe olives. Light and delicate on the palate with a fresh grassy taste, medium body and a smooth ripe finish. Excellent for drizzling over more delicate dishes. This comes from the hills outside Verona where cool breezes come down from the Dolomites.

Torres Silencio: Sourced from the estate of Los Desterrados in Lleida, Catalonia, from centuries-old Arbequina olive trees. The olives are harvested and cold-pressed on the same day, and only the oil from the first pressing is used. The resulting extra virgin olive oil is rounded and well balanced with aromas of artichoke, unripened almonds and fresh-cut grass. And Miguel A. Torres Senior requests it at every meal when travelling (where available). 

West Cork Olives: Bradley’s also carry oils marketed by West Cork Olives and imported from Spain and Greece. I haven’t had a chance to sample these yet.


Suggestions On Olive Oil In Cooking

1 - How about delicious Pumpkin and Farro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and a good oil?

2 - A lovely plateful of local scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread (with oil on it) with these two dishes. 

3 - Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with red wine (Italian or Spanish!), thyme, garlic and black pepper, served with braised winter greens and an olive oil potato mash.  

If you prefer fish why not try this Fenn’s Quay dish that I came across a few years back: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree. The first three dishes were served at an olive oil tasting in Ballymaloe.