Castell de la Bleda, a Familia Torres property, built on an Iberian and Roman settlement

News / 2019 · 07 · 31

Archaeological works carried out on Castell de la Bleda, a building cataloged as a Cultural Asset of National Interest and owned by Familia Torres since 2016, have confirmed that it was built on an Iberian and Roman settlement. Located in the municipality of Santa Margarida i els Monjos, in the Penedès region, these new findings come a year after announcing the discovery of a medieval defense tower that would explain the origin of the “castle” part of the property’s name. Now, new studies have confirmed that the roots of Castell de la Bleda run much deeper than the experts initially considered, going all the way back to the high Iberian period between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC.

According to archaeologist Xavier Esteve from Tríade Serveis Culturals, despite still being under study, the evidence from the Iberian settlement consists of various silos that have been found beneath one of the rooms in the property. “One of them is like a Russian doll, with up to three silos nestled one inside the other: One silo from the modern age had cut into another silo dug out in the same place two millennia earlier, during the Iberian period, and that one, in turn, had cut into the side of a third silo that was also Iberian, but even older.”

This discovery confirms the Iberian past of Castell de la Bleda, while the presence of Roman age building materials points to the existence of a villa some 2,000 years ago. There is indirect but clear evidence deposited inside the medieval silos, namely large fragments of ceramics and typical Roman tiles, as well as fragments of dolia, large earthenware vessels used as containers for storing wine.

Since the 1930s, ceramics from Iberian and Roman times were known to have been found in more shallow ground around Castell de la Bleda. In 1961, the archaeologist Pere Giró, advised by the property’s then owner, was able to confirm that ceramics, walls, flooring, and foundations of a Roman age construction had turned up in the recently plowed fields. There is also evidence that in 1967, part of an Iberian age settlement was destroyed when a foundry was built in this place.

Although none of this evidence had emerged next to the building, the present archaeological work inside the property has made it possible to confirm the most optimistic hypotheses and decipher the millennia-old history of this site. “Before the current building, which dates from the 17th century, there was a medieval farmhouse, and before that, a castle. Now, we can also say that there was a Roman villa here as well as an Iberian settlement,” notes Esteve, who is hopeful about the possibility of discovering new remains. “The excavated area doesn’t even cover a third of the space with the most archaeological potential. I’m convinced that Castell de la Bleda is still hiding lots of surprises,” he concludes.

New Moneu vines at Castell de la Bleda

The Castell de la Bleda estate, located just a short distance from Familia Torres’ iconic Mas La Plana estate, is mainly used to grow the ancestral red grape variety Moneu, native to the Penedès region. It is one of the pre-phylloxera varieties that Familia Torres has managed to recover as part of its project to revive ancestral varieties and that has been accepted by the DO Penedès.

The planting of Moneu has been expanded considerably this year, with 10 new hectares that use the gobelet training system and that will be productive starting in 2021. The Moneu vineyard, planted in 2016 on an experimental basis, is now yielding good fruit used to make fresh, balanced wines that are intensely aromatic, with pronounced acidity and good concentration. According to Miguel Torres Maczassek, from the fifth generation of the Torres family: “We are strongly committed to Moneu, not only given its great enological interest but also as an alternative to cope with climate change, since it’s a variety that’s very resistant to high temperatures and one that ripens slowly.”