Today was our least busy, or perhaps least hectic, day of the trip so far. It involved a visiting the main Torres winery in Vilafranca del Penedes (in the wine world head facilities are often called ‘motherships’) and lunch at Torres’s private restaurant, Mas Rabell.
The Torres mothership is located in a town about 40 minutes from downtown Barcelona. We had a feeling it would be big, considering the day before we discovered that Torres produces roughly 40 million bottles of wine at their Spanish headquarters each year, and we were not disappointed. Rather modestly, however, much of the winery is hidden from the street. You do not even see most of the facility until you are on the tour, as a great deal of it is built below ground. That it is below ground is largely functional – pressing grapes and allowing the juice to run via gravity into tanks rather than more harsh methods like pumping produces better wine. Another level below the ground is the cellar room (or hangar). Some 25,000 barrels exist at this winery and a third are replaced each year (consider that each barrel is bought for around $1,000 a piece).
After the astonishing and eye-opening tour of the facilities we saw Mas La Plana – a specific vineyard that produces a famous cabernet sauvignon of the same name, and is one of Spain’s top wines of all time. It is one of my favourite wines as well, and it was wonderful to see.
Once we completed our winery visit, we were taken to Mas Rabell, a small, private outpost in another Torres vineyard some ten minutes away, which serves as the company’s private restaurant. Guests of the winery, press, clients and private events are hosted here. Most days it is scarcely populated – today we were one of two groups taking up the 50-odd tables – but on busy days it is full. The restaurant has its own award-winning chef, Sergi Millet (who apprenticed at El Bulli – the number one-ranked restaurant in the world) and he created a wonderful four course lunch that consisted of a plate of charcuterie, a tomato salad from the restaurant’s own organic garden, and pork cheeks with a potato and mushroom side and demi-glaze. It was a delightful, relaxed lunch.
After lunch we went back to the hotel, relaxed, took in a Spanish siesta (a nap) for an hour, and then meandered our way back to the popular Rambla (walk) street which was packed with tourists and locals. In the evening we visited a Torres Vinoteca – a Torres-branded wine bar, which serves only Torres wines (yet about 50 different selections) at winery prices and all available by the glass. We were hosted again by the Torres representative to Canada who selected several tapas (including the famous Iberian acorn-fed ham) and wines and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves over two hours. It was a great day.
an historic, ancient grape press in front of a reservoir, in front of the Torres residence at the winery
a field of fermenting tanks – and these are only for the red wines!
old wine vessels dotting the artistically-landscaped winery grounds
the cage room – where wines go to enjoy bottle aging before being sold to retailers – some 6 million bottles in here!
Mas La Plana
Bye Bye Barcelona!