When one is invited to visit Purgatory, the general reaction would be “no thanks”. However, this was an opportunity to visit the new winery “Purgatori” in Costers del Segre, Spain.
The winery is located in the historical ‘Mas de L’Aranyó’ that dates back to 1770 when the monks of the Abbey of Montserrat settled in the property as penance. If they were caught misbehaving they were sent to the remote estate to work under extreme heat and harsh working conditions as punishment, it was an inhospitable place, far away from the monastery. Their job was to work the land and provide the abbey with grain, oil, meat, etc. They quickly realized that the area was perfect for grape-growing and began to make wine, which they also delivered to the diocese
The Familia Torres has kept the name and re-invented the estate as their most recent winery addition, and it is the first time that the winery has produced its namesake wine “Purgatori” overseen by fifth generation winemaker, Miguel Torres Maczassek.
They purchased the farmhouse and its 870 hectares in 1999 and reintroduced winegrowing on the estate. It currently has 200 hectares of organically certified vineyards and 100 hectares of olive groves. The continental climate, the striking shifts in daytime and nighttime temperature and the distribution of the vineyard on three different levels make the Les Garrigues estate one of Familia Torres’s finest in terms of quality. In addition, it provides an excellent site for conducting field research with revived ancestral varieties and studying how the vines adapt to climate change.
The vineyard has a 200-meter slope that rises to a maximum elevation of 550 meters. Each of the three vineyard lots is hand-harvested at optimal ripeness and manually processed in separate batches to preserve the integrity of the fruit. The combination of steel and concrete enhances the wine’s complexity, with the former emphasizing the fruit and the latter benefitting the wine’s maturation and evolution. The wines then age in French oak for 15 to 18 months prior to their release.
Familia Torres has been in the business of making premium wine and brandy since 1870. Rooted in the Penedès near Barcelona for more than three centuries, Familia Torres historically has wineries and vineyards in the Penedès, Conca de Barberà, Priorat, and Costers del Segre. Today’s fifth generation is focused on recovering ancestral varieties and continuing to make wines from unique and special vineyards. Familia Torres is a member of the Premium Familiae Vini, an association of 11 wine families who are among the most prestigious wine producers of their regions.
“Almost twenty years ago, we took a chance on this region and its harsh climate by planting vineyards here again,” says Miguel Torres Maczassek, “Over the years, we have seen how Mediterranean varieties like Garnacha and Cariñena have adapted exceedingly well. Six years ago, Purgatori became the first wine made from this vineyard. The inauguration of the new winery marks the culmination of a very promising project that has led us to restore the old winery built by the Benedictine monks in the 18th century.”
The Torres family view it is a tribute to the monks who made wine at this farmhouse under extremely harsh conditions – hence the name Purgatori. And now they are making wine here, just like the monks did, and they wanted to reflect this link to the past by connecting the new winery and the old farmhouse.