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by Fred McMillin
for October 4, 2001

 

Did The Lady Lose?

 

The Question

Shall we locate our new winery-vineyards in Chile or California? There were three opinions:

    1. The sister, Marimar Torres: "California."

    2. The brother, Miguel Torres, Jr.: "Chile."

    3. The father, Don Miguel Torres, Sr.: "Chile."

Who was better qualified to judge? No contest. Marimar had a degree in economics from the University of Barcelona, and was fluent in six languages. but, let's see what wine authority Hugh Johnson had to say about the two men:

Miguel Torres Sr. And Jr. represent a landmark in Spanish wine history. They revolutionized the quality of Catalan wine since the 1940s. For example, they left no doubt that Spain could make as good Chardonnay as California.

Marimar Torres

Did Marimar lose?

 
 
 
Don Miguel Torres, Sr.

Did Don Miguel Torres, Sr. lose?

 

The Answer

In 1979 the Torres family purchased land in Chile! The lady had lost...but wait!  

Mother Enters The Fray

Dona Margarita Torres shared Marimar's disappointment. So she worked on her husband for three years. Sure enough. In 1983 Torres bought in Sonorna County. Just six years later Marimar released her first Chardonnay. The lady had not lost.

My first review of a Marimar bottle praised the $27 1991 Chardonnay. In a large tasting I had poured it blind for a) Master Sommelier Peter Granoff and for b) my Ft. Mason (S.F. City College) class. When I collected the ballots, both had voted it Best White of Tasting.

 

And Pinot, Too

Marimar produces only two wines from her Don Miquel Vineyard, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

I published a review of both of the 1993s.

    The Chardonnay—Spain's distinguished winemaking family, Torres, is represented in the U.S.A. by Marimar Torres, Her Chardonnay comes from vines planted close together in the European style, thereby reducing yields and increasing flavors...an elegant wine made with great care.

    The Pinot Noir, 1993, Green Valley, Sonoma County, $25. Summer release. Fascinating complexity created partly by fermenting each of the five Pinot clones separately. Gentle treatment at all stages makes this ready to enjoy right now.

Those words apply just as well to my current Ft. Mason class results. The 1999 Chardonnay again won Best White of Tasting and the 1999 Pinot Noir scored an astronomical eighteen percent higher than the Chardonnay!

Torres means "tower" and these bottles certainly tower over the competition.

 

Postscript—Torres Turning Points

For those who enjoy success stories, here's the briefest tale of the rise of Torres.

1856—Although the family had grown wine grapes in northeastern Spain for two centuries, Jaime Torres scurried off to Cuba to make his fortune.

1870—He returned home, built the world's largest wine vat (132,000 gal.), and hosted the king of Spain to dine in it to publicize the first Torres winery.

1932—His grandson (Miquel Sr., to us) took over, put wine in bottles, and opened up the export business. (Learning her lessons well from dad, in 1985 as President of Torres Wines North America, how many bottles of Torres wines did Marimar sell in the U.S.A.? One million!)

1960s—Jacques Bergeret, Professor of Oenology, Dijon University, recalls that Miguel Torres, Jr. "had taken his father's advice and come to Burgundy to study winemaking...He was eager to learn anything touching on wine production in different parts of the world." Later, back at the family winery in Penedes, he often would have as many as 200 experiments underway simultaneously.

1983—Once it was decided to set up a premium Marimar Torres winery in California, both Miguel Sr. And Jr. poured all their decades of expertise into it. You must taste the results.

 
 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 


 
 

This page created October 2001

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