Arun Batra met Marimar Torres, sister of the legendary Miguel Torres and a winery owner in California at an exclusive and , private winemaker dinner facilitated by the Indian Wine Academy last week at La Piazza at the Hyatt New Delhi .
Photos By:: Adil Arora
Most people who categorize themselves as wine drinkers would have heard of the name Torres and most probably would have had a glass or more of some of the quality wines made by that titan of the wine trade - the Miguel Torres Group- which started making wines in the north eastern region of Catalonia way back since the 17th century.
So it was indeed a great honour to receive an invitation from Subhash Arora, the President of the Indian Wine Academy to an exclusive wine maker’s dinner at the La Piazza at the Hyatt to meet Marimar Torres, younger sister of the legendary Miguel Torres, who was visiting India along with her charming daughter Cristina.
Marimar Torres has wine running in her veins -when you are the daughter and sister of the luminary family as the Torres Group and Miguel Torres, the current head of the Spanish –Chilean wine conglomerate, you have obviously grown up in the world of vines. So maybe it was natural that after her move to the USA, she decided to drop anchor on the West Coast and establish the American outpost of the far-flung Torres Empire.
Sonoma County in California, a part of the Russian River Valley, is where she founded the Marimar Estate in 1986 of which she is today the Proprietor and very interestingly, the winegrower! Positioned as a boutique winery, the Estate takes advantage of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the influence of the sea breezes and drifting fog which create the perfect micro climate for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In a short period of two decades since its inception, Marimar Estate wines- with a portfolio of three Chardonnays and five Pinot Noirs- have earned the respect not only of wine critics but also environmentalists as a result of her emphasis on organics and bio-dynamics which is the hot favourite the world over –truly a marvellous achievement.
The dinner got under way with the Marimar Estate Chardonnay 2005-an oaked Chardonnay from Don Miguel Vineyard – a very fresh well rounded wine with yellow fruit flavours and a butterscotch finish. I paired this wine with both the Lobster salad and the Sea bass tortellini and wasn’t disappointed at all with the pairing. This is a versatile wine with Seafood and proudly showcases its owner’s decision to focus on just two wine varietals.
Whilst we were waiting for our Duck Breast Tagliata, Marimar’s daughter Cristina explained to us that since 2003 , Marimar Estate’s two vineyards –the Don Miguel and Dona Margarita- have been farmed organically which they have found not only to extend the vines longevity but the grapes have also acquired a greater concentration of flavour and more elegant aromas .
The next wine of the evening was a Marimar La Masia Pinot Noir 2004again from the Don Miguel Vineyard which I was looking forward to pairing with the Duck Tagliata in berry sauce but we were disappointed as most of us who had ordered the Duck found that the Chef’s perceptions of the ‘doneness’ of the duck differed from ours and unfortunately the overcooked birds had to go back– a momentary lapse on the chef’s part given the fact that the Hyatt sources the best Duck in the city for its China Kitchen. So I ultimately paired the Pinot Noir with some Salmon which really didn’t do justice to this dark cherry coloured full bodied wine with flavours of chocolate and berry.
Though Marimar Torres is offering just these two wines in the Indian market thru its distributor Prestige Wines- a JV of Torres, she pulled out a bottle of her signature Cristina Pinot Noir 2005 also from the Don Miguel vineyard for us to get an idea of the level of sophistication in her wines.
This wine is obviously named after her daughter Cristina and the Torres lineage is evident in this creamy smooth and intensely fruity end product. Sadly for us its US $60+ retail price precludes her from offering it for our market given our massive duty add-ons.
By this time, the superb table service closely supervised by Rohit , the La Piazza restaurant manager, had us onto the dessert of Chestnut budino and for those driving home, coffee. Talking mostly about wines at the table, I realised we had not got around to the other facet of Marimar Torres’ life, that of a food author -with 2 books on Spanish and Catalan cuisine already in print and more on the way –though I think we’ll need another wine dinner to tell you about that!!
It’s not every day one meets up with a winemaker with such a classy wine pedigree. I am sure that the passion and enthusiasm she puts into her wines will be reciprocated by the Indian wine drinkers. Good luck to you, Marimar!