New York Times wine critic includes Familia Torres’s ancestral varietal Pirene among top wine picks

Award / 2019 · 12 · 12

The ancestral variety Pirene, which Familia Torres is experimenting with at its vineyards in Sant Miquel de Tremp (Lleida), in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees, is among the wines that most impressed Eric Asimov this year, as the renowned New York Times wine critic recounts in ‘Our Critic’s Best Wine Moments of 2019’.

Asimov has been writing about wine for 20 years and has spent the past 15 running the prestigious American newspaper’s wine section. “Great wines create great memories,” he writes, “They leave impressions to be pondered and stories to be told.” Among the 12 wines that left him with lasting memories is Pirene 2018, an experimental wine made from one of the ancestral varieties that Familia Torres has recovered for its enological potential and ability to withstand climate change. The critic describes the wine as “bright and lively, fresh, floral and herbal, a delicious, refreshing drink” and wonders why this variety was ignored for so long.

Asimov visited Familia Torres’s vineyards this past May to see how the family winery is adapting to the new climate reality and the steps it is taking to reduce carbon emissions. He later wrote about the visit in his article ‘Freshness in a Changed Climate: High Altitudes, Old Grapes’. High-altitude vineyards and ancestral varieties are two of the measures Familia Torres is implementing as it adapts to a warming planet and the drought conditions that climate change will bring.

Familia Torres has managed to revive 50 varieties since it began its search in the mid-1980s. So far six of them have shown great enological potential, as well as possessing characteristics that are particularly suited to extreme climates: long-cycle, late-ripening grapes that are highly acidic. 

In addition to Pirene, these include Forcada, Moneu, Gonfaus, Querol, and Garró, which have been planted in the vineyards where they feel most at home. They are the focus of Familia Torres’s fifth generation, which strives to crystallize the project in varietal wines that can be brought to market. Innovation and tradition go hand in hand in this project, which is also contributing to the recovery of Catalonia’s winegrowing heritage while keeping its sights firmly on the future.

International accolades for Salmos and Reserva Real

Another Familia Torres wine recently caught the attention of an American publication: the trade magazine Wine Enthusiast recently featured Salmos 2015 (DOQ Priorat) on its list of the year’s best wines. The magazine describes its ‘The Enthusiast 100’ as “a list of the best wines to crack open and revel in right now.” Made primarily from grapes grown in the winery’s own vineyards in Porrera and El Lloar, Salmos came in at number 75, one of just five Spanish wines and the only Catalan wine on the list.

Moreover – the Hong Kong based wine media platform – included Familia Torres’ single vineyard Reserva Real 2015 (DO Penedès) in its report ‘ ‘Top 100 Wines of Spain 2019’, having been selected with 97 points on position nr 28 from 2.102 Spanish wines. Reserva Real is a Bordeaux blend from a 4 hectares vineyard of Silurian slates that are unique within the Penedès region.