Familia Torres launches new wine made from recovered ancestral varieties

Gonfaus berries. Image courtesy Familia Torres

Spanish winery Familia Torres has launched its new wine Gonfaus 2021, which is an experimental wine of very limited production, made entirely with the red variety Gonfaus from the Purgatori estate in Les Garrigues. This is the sixth wine to come out of Familia Torres’s project to recover ancestral varieties that began 40 years ago, and it is the first to come from the Purgatori estate.

The recovery project was launched in order to discover more about Catalonia’s viticultural heritage prior to the arrival of phylloxera and how it has adapted to climate change.

Gonfaus was found more than 20 years ago and once it had been sanitised and reproduced in vitro, it was tested in the vineyard on different properties of Familia Torres to find out which climate and soil conditions were most favourable and to be able to assess its oenological potential. Over the years it has been found that it is on the Purgatori estate, at an altitude of 500 meters, where it expresses itself best, as it has adapted very well to the extremely dry climate and the temperature fluctuations of the area.

Gonfaus is not a very productive variety and is one of the few female varieties currently known – most are hermaphrodites. A study carried out by the French ampelographer Thierry Lacombe on the relationships between grape varieties shows that the Gonfaus is a very old variety as it is the mother of Querol, one of the first varieties recovered by Familia Torres and a relative of many other varieties such as the ancestral Pirene, the Trobat or the Graciano.

Gonfaus wines stand out for their intense and complex aromas of ripe fruits on a slightly spicy background and show a well-integrated acidity and good concentration, with ripe and sweet tannins. This acidity is, in fact, a common denominator in the recovered ancestral varieties that Familia Torres is focusing on. In general, these are long-cycle varieties, with progressive ripening and very good acidity preservation.

Gonfaus 2021 is the first commercial vintage of this wine and only 1,118 bottles have been produced. The wine is made at the Purgatori winery by winemaker David Barriche, in a delicate process to preserve the essence of the variety and enhance its elegance and aromatic intensity.

2021 was a good vintage for the Purgatori estate because of the moderate temperatures, despite the extreme continental climate of the area, and the good water reserve of the vineyard. The year began with a heavy snowfall of up to 70 centimetres of accumulated snow in the upper part of the estate, where the Gonfaus vines are located, which favoured good vegetative development of the vines.

Despite starting as a philanthropic project, for years now the fifth generation, represented by Miguel and Mireia Torres Maczassek, has focused on recovering the varieties with the most oenological potential and that have best adapted to high temperatures and drought with the aim of creating unique wines that can reach consumers.

“Gradually recovering Catalonia’s wine-growing heritage is very exciting, but we are doing it with our sights set on the future in order to produce wines that not only speak of our history but also maintain quality and acidity despite climate change,” said Miguel Torres.

Gonfaus is the sixth Familia Torres wine made from recovered ancestral varieties, the third single varietal and the first to come from the Purgatori estate (from the 2022 vintage, it will be under the DO Costers del Segre). Its predecessors are Grans Muralles (DO Conca de Barberà), which integrates Garró and Querol, the first two varieties recovered by the winery, into the blend of native varieties; Clos Ancestral (DO Penedès), made with the ancestral moneu from Castell de la Bleda, in a blend with Tempranillo and Garnacha, Forcada and Clos Ancestral white (DO Penedès), made with the only recovered white variety, Forcada, as a single varietal and as part of a blend with Xarel·lo respectively, and Pirene, made 100% with the ancestral red grape variety that gives its name to the wine, planted in the Pre-Pyrenees.

Gonfaus is available in the UK, US, Belgium and Spain.

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