Under an hour away from Barcelona by train lies the D.O. wine producing region of Penedès, a beautiful area of rolling hills, quaint, historic small towns, vast vineyards and the looming presence of Montserrat in the distance.
Distant Montserrat behind the Penedès landscape
There are a number of wine producers in this area, many of which offer tours and tasting, although not all are easily accessible without a car, hence the reason for choosing Torres for our visit which can be reached by taking the train to Vilafranca del Penedès and a short taxi journey from the station there. Public transport reliant cava lovers can also visit, tour and taste at the cellers of Freixenet a few stops before Vilafranca at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and will be dropped off immediately outside.
There are various tours available at Torres, we chose the Standard Winery Tour and the option to sample a few of the wines, a dessert wine and brandy to round off the visit.
The tour begins in a mini-cinema with the showing of a film about the family and vineyard history, which set the tone for the light and flowery descriptions used for the vineyard from there on in. We then moved onto the ‘Tunnel of Aromas’, a bizarre room with projected, blurry images of burning vines, grapes and wine production amongst others which were unidentifiable .
The Tunnel of Aromas
These images were accompanied by the ‘aromas’, supposedly the scent of burning vines, followed by spring flowers and then grape juice before fermentation. Unfortunately the acrid scent of the first fragrance masked any chance of picking out the later ones.
In keeping with the somewhat strange experience of this tunnel, we had fantasies of a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory experience and sightings of Oompah Loompahs when a motorised ‘train’ then arrived to take us around the vineyard. Sadly, they were to remain just fantasies, although bizarre goings on were not confined solely to this tunnel.
The train led us out of the tunnel and onto a tour of the vineyards itself, an automated voice gave us brief information about the site and various buildings we passed, such as the harvest collection area, machinery for separating the grapes from the stems and bottling the vintages.
Harvest collection depot
Machinery to separate the grapes from their stems
The previous bizarre projected images made another appearance as we entered the first of two cellars, this time there were no ‘aromas’ but yet more flowery descriptions of monks creating the first wines, accompanied by their ghostly images projected on the glass of the cellar walls. Personally I would’ve been happier with this information and a view and detail of the said cellar.
Luckily, we were briefly released from the ‘ghost train’ and a real guide took us into the second cellar of the tour, this time providing us with interesting and informative detail about the maturation, storage and sales of the wine. This was the highlight of the tour and overall the whole experience would’ve benefitted from having a real guide, which is available on the VIP tour.
After a brief return to the train we arrived back at the main reception where we had the opportunity to sample some of the Torres creations.
For the tasting there is the option to sample four noble and reserve wines, or one of the prestigious wines and a brandy or dessert wine. We made the most of being a group and got tickets to sample all of these and enjoyed sniffing and slurping the following: the prestigious wines Mas La Plana and Milmanda; the reserve wines Marimar Estate Chardonnay, Santa Digna C.S. Rosé, Atrium Merlot 2008 and Gran Coronas C. B. 2006;
Marimar Estate Chardonnay and Santa Digna C.S. Rosé
the dessert wine Floralis Moscatel and finally the Torres 10 brandy.
Floralis Moscatel and Torres '10' brandy
This is only the second time I’ve been wine tasting and being very unknowledgeable about wines, as with my previous experience I loved having the guidance about flavours and aromas and information about the grapes and production, which always leave me eager to extend my knowledge.
Overall this was a fun afternoon out, in a beautiful location and an interesting ‘taster’ of a wine tour, sadly it just left me craving a more indepth visit and wishing it had had a little more substance. A hint to myself and anyone interested in doing such a tour to maybe choose more than the standard tour in future.
As a final note about Torres, I think it’s worth mentioning and commending them on the steps they are taking to reduce their environmental impact, details of which were mentioned on the tour and futher details of which are on their website http://www.torres.es
Torres vineyard tour, Pacs del Penedès
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