Torres revives ‘ancestral’ varieties

Torres has revived two more “ancestral” varieties as part of its long-running project to bring back forgotten grapes.



Two red varieties, Moneu and Gonfaus join the 40 other Catalan varieties that have been bought back from the brink of extinction in the past 30 years.

So far only seven of these varieties look as though they would be suitable for winemaking and the two most recently revived are among them.

Both are described as very heat and drought resistant and “express their greatest potential in arid climates and under extreme conditions”, which makes them interesting in terms of climate change or new plantings in extremely dry areas.

Both varieties were discovered in 1998, Moneu in Querol near Tarragona while Gonfaus came from Santa Eulàlia de Puig Oriol in Osona, a county closer to Barcelona. Gonfaus is also interesting because it is possibly a female vine – most are hermaphrodites.

Miguel Torres Maczassek, general manager of Bodegas Torres, said: “Reviving ancestral varieties is a long, slow process that demands great patience, hours of experimentation, and a skilled team of incredible professionals.  The work lies somewhere between viticulture and archaeology.

“It gives us a better understanding of the wealth of grape varieties that existed prior to the outbreak of phylloxera at



the end of the 19th century. Not only do the Moneu and Gonfau varieties represent a recovered part of Catalonia’s lost vinicultural heritage, they can also help us tackle the effects of climate change.”

The Torres project began in the early 1980s and has now broadened its scope beyond Catalonia to try and find rare Spanish varieties in Rioja, Rueda, Ribera del Duero and Rías Baixas.

The recently revived Querol and Garró are now used in Torres’ Gran Muralles while Selma Blanca found in Penedès shows “great promise”.

One Response to “Torres revives ‘ancestral’ varieties”

  1. paul white says:

    The irony here is that Torres are responsible for the eradication of many old local Catalan grapes in the 1970s and 80s when they introduced and promoted French grape varieties like Cabernet, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, etc. This encouraged the destruction of vineyards planted in local varieites, many in mixed field blend laden with clonal diversity, and subsequent replanting with French grapes. It is to Torres’s credit that they eventually understood their mistake and have planted some of the old grapes.

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