Climbing the Ladder of Torres














Torres is a name you should recognize – a very prominent wine producer out of Spain with many parcels of land growing different and sometimes unique varieties – especially for Spain (Pinot Noir anyone?). My parents don’t always recognize the names of a wine, but for some reason Sangre de Toro (Blood of the Bull) rings a bell with them, and even more so because of the little plastic bull hanging from the neck of the bottle. It’s not always about the plastic toy or the marketing, but they do remember liking the wine – and in the end it is because of the wine’s gimmick. I won’t be looking at that wine today, but the rest of the Torres line-up is fair game.

Through my years as an oenophile, I have noticed even before I got into writing about wine, that Torres was synonymous with quality… bottle for bottle – vintage to vintage, Torres delivers a good bottle of wine – must come from producing wine since the 17th century, while the establishment of the house of Torres, as we know it today, dates back to 1870.

At a recent tasting, I tried a number of Torres wines from their Chilean and Spanish properties. The Chilean property came to them in 1979 when Don Miguel Torres Carbo acquired a small winery in Curico. There really is good value coming out of both properties – and good wines at all price points; but especially for the bargain-hunter looking for those inexpensive bottles that taste like they cost a lot more.

IMG_0663Starting briefly with the Santa Digna Estelado Sparkling Rose ($19.95 – #317669), this is the second time I’ll be mentioning this wine, as it will also be written about in the pages of Ottawa Life in the May-June issue – but it’s so good it bears repeating (available April 27 through Vintages). There’s also a 2011 Cordillera Chardonnay that should be in the LCBO now ($18.95 – #296624): it’s a creamy Chardonnay with elegance and generous mouth-feel.

But I promised we’d climb the ladder of Miguel Torres of Spain, so here we go… From wines that really deliver the goods, all but one will be available through the LCBO at one time or another this year. 2010 Infinite Tempranillo ($12.95 – #231795) is the IMG_0666only wine under screw-cap – a rarity for Spain because it is one of the two major countries in which cork is produced: juicy with blackberry and vanilla, this wine over-delivers for its under $13 price point (***1/2). Speaking of over delivering the 2010 Coronas Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.95 – #29728) over delivers annually; three’s a nice spice, dark fruit and hints of red fruit and smoky notes (****).

By consignment, which are wines you can only buy by the case from the agent – in this case Family IMG_0667Wine Merchants (, the 2010 Soto de Torres Ibericos Tempranillo is just such a wine that you should be adding to your summer wine collection ($17.95) as it would be perfect around the BBQ: smoky-licorice, blue and black berries, nice tannins, easy to drink yet with nice complexity and good ageability, say 5+ years (****). For those willing to wait a few months, be sure to mark August 7 on your calendar as the 2010 Celeste ($21.95 – #672691) will make an appearance. Celeste comes every year and brings a bunch of fans along with it. The star-map label is striking, but not as striking as what’s in the bottle: beautiful mocha, chocolate, blackberry and tannins with a nice soft, smoky fruit (****).

With each label and each step up the Torres ladder you gain more complexity and a more appealing wine – I’d recommend, if you are just starting out with getting to know Torres, start with the $12.95 and buy a flight worth (wines at different price points) to see where your tastes lie.