Colin Burbidge, of Lancashire Wine School, writes about Vilafranca winery in North East Spain.
If you’re planning a holiday to the North East of Spain, Barcelona or the Costa Brava then it’s a worthwhile trip to Vilafranca in Penedés.
Just 45 minutes from Barcelona and similar distance from the coastal resort towns of Costa Brava is Torres’ winery and visitor centre. This family-owned company has grown from humble origins in the 17th Century into an international concern, with vineyards and wineries in Spain, California and Chile.
The Vilafranca winery is just one of many operated by the family in Spain.
Your arrival is at the impressive looking visitor centre and as you wait to begin your winery tour you might, like me, wonder where the winery is.
The visitor centre contains shops, tasting rooms and impressive waiting rooms but there is little evidence of wine making activity.
The winery is separate, but even as you begin your winery tour you’re still left wondering where the facility is.
As the tour approaches the winery you might catch a glimpse of stainless steel glinting in the sunshine as your tour guide informs you that the winery has been constructed in a hollow so that disruption to the natural view is minimised.
In fact, everything about the facility is aimed at reducing the impact on the environment, with use of solar power and even using the CO2 produced by fermentations to create a fuel used by small tractors.
During a short interlude in the bottle storage room you’ll hear the relaxing classical music that Torres play to their wines to help them rest while they mature.
Here in the UK there are number of wines widely available. Torres Viña Sol at around £7.50 is a refreshing blend of Garnacha Blanca (white grenache) and a local Catalá grape called Parellada of Cava fame. A citrus and floral wine, a great summer glugger. Enjoy chilled with salads and fish.
Their flagship red is Sangre de Toro (Bull’s Blood). A full bodied red blended from Garnacha Tinta and Cariñena (Carignan). Deeply coloured with flavours of plum and blackberry. Roasted notes and licorice from the oak maturation finish off this wine nicely as a winter warmer, perfect with stews.
My favourite among the Torres affordable wines is the Viña Esmeralda at just under £10. This blend of aromatic Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer grapes, grown in the higher cooler parts of Penedés is fragrant and floral with exotic lychee and perhaps just a hint of spice.
At the higher end Torres can offer fine quality. Torres Mas La Plana at £39 from Waitrose Cellar is certainly not an everyday wine. This premium Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes taken from a small vineyard and aged in oak barrels for two years.
It has an ageing potential of up to 15 years and is rich, powerful and concentrated with intense black fruit and vanilla.
Perhaps you might find it a little less expensive in the Visitor Centre shop if you think it’s worth risking the trip home, of course.