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Bodegas Torres reintroduces ancestral red grape uncovered 20 years ago

Published:  25 July, 2016

Catalonian winery Bodegas Torres is reintroducing the red variety Moneu after the vines were destroyed by phylloxera two centuries ago.

Catalonian wine giant Bodegas Torres is reintroducing the red variety Moneu after the vines were destroyed by phylloxera two centuries ago.

The pre-phylloxera indigenous variety was discovered almost 20 years ago near Querol, in Alt Camp, thanks to a project dedicated to reviving ancestral varieties.

After experimenting for several years and determining its high enological potential, Torres has now decided to plant the variety into the Penedès using grafting techniques.

Moneu is the second ancestral variety that Torres is reintroducing into the Penedès, following the planting of Selma Blanca at its Aiguaviva vineyards a few years ago.

According to Miguel Torres Maczassek, general manager of Bodegas Torres, there is evidence of many more pre-phylloxera varietal remnants waiting to be discovered. "Given the Penedès's long winegrowing tradition, we are convinced that the region was home to many grape varieties before phylloxera destroyed the vineyards in the late 19th century. Later, when winegrowing resumed, many of these varieties were not planted again.

"It is really exciting to see how, with the help of winegrowers, we are gradually reviving the winegrowing heritage and richness of the Penedès and Catalonia in general," he said.

The initiative to revive ancestral varieties was begun over 30 years ago by Bodegas Torres's current president Miguel A. Torres.

Now part of the fifth generation working on the project, Miguel Torres Maczassek is someone who knows all about playing the long game.

"We have an excellent team of professionals who are working on translating this project into wines that can be brought to market; very special, unique wines that will be impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world."

"If you want to aim for (super) premium quality in the wine business, the investments are not profitable in the short term, but they make sense in the long term. I believe that the ideal structure for a wine business focused on top quality is a 'family structure' because good wine needs time, and a family can understand that. From the moment you plant a vineyard until you sell the wine from it, it takes about 10 years or sometimes even more," he added.

Moneu will be introduced into the historical Castell de la Bleda vineyards in Santa Margarida i el Monjos I Catalonia, which the winery recently bought.

The winery has revived close to 50 varieties over the past 30 years with six showing enological promise, including four that are indigenous to the Penedès.

Querol and Garró are the other two Penedès varieties, which Torres already uses in the Grans Muralles blend, one of its leading flagship wines from the DO Conca de Barberà.