Higher ground: how Torres is trying to combat soaring temperatures

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019
The Buyer
As Europe reels from some of the highest temperatures it has seen in recorded history, so the impact of climate change moves higher and higher up everybody’s agenda.

Familia Torres, which is 150 years old next year, has already been setting and meeting some ambitious targets in terms of reducing CO2 commissions and investing in alternative energies to help try and play a part in combatting climate change. Part of this strategy is also to start planting vines on higher ground – its latest acquired sites in Catalonia are at least five degrees cooler at 500-750m high as Miguel Torres Maczassek explains to Peter Dean.

As climate change raises temperatures in Catalonia, Torres believes that the best wines will come from vines at higher altitude.

When travelling the world’s vineyards there are two subjects that you can bet your bottom dollar you will hear being discussed: climate change and Brexit. With the one that is unequivocally happening, the subject is accompanied by a variety of coping strategies: changes in grape variety, viticulture and choice of terroir to name just three.

In hot European countries, winemakers have already started to buy more elevated vineyards and higher ground with vine-planting potential; looking at more North and North Easterly aspects; returning to ancestral varieties that can make wine at lower levels of alcohol; picking grapes earlier, and so on. For those that can afford to, though, there is an inexorable move to higher ground.

In the past few months The Buyer has heard from Ramón Bilbao‘s head winemaker Rodolfo Bastida  who has started planting grapes at much higher altitude in Rioja and Rueda. His extensive research shows that a rise of just 10-20 metres can have a discernible effect on the diurnal temperature.

Like many other winemakers, Pio Boffa from Pio Cesare is also worried about climate change, so much so that he has just bought a 20 hectare vineyard of Nebbiolo away from Barolo that is 600m above sea level; and then there is Miguel Torres Maczassek’s latest project of moving some of Torres’ vineyards to higher ground in Catalonia.

When Torres presented his latest portfolio of vintages earlier in the year he revealed that he has bought a 1.8 hectare site called Mas de la Rosa near Porrera 500 metres high in the Catalonia hills, a plot he discovered whilst looking for more vines for the company’s old vine project, Perpetual. While he was investing in this project he also identified and acquired another vineyard even higher up called Els Tossals.

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