When Miguel A. Torres, patriarch of the influential Torres family, wanted to create a memorable sensory experience for the launch of his first Catalan sparkling wine, Cuvée Vardon Kennett Esplendor, he called upon François Chartier.

A visionary company

Today, the fifth generation is at the helm, with Miguel Torres Maczassek taking over from his father Miguel A. as General Manager in 2012. His sister Mireia Torres Maczassek is responsible for the Jean Leon brand and the Priorat vineyards, in addition to being Technical Director for all Torres production and managing the family foundation. Miguel A. Torres remains Chairman of the Board of Directors and an outstanding ambassador. The company has 1,300 employees around the world, including vineyards in California overseen by Marimar Torres (Miguel A.’s sister) and her daughter Cristina. The company also has a winery in Curicó, Chile, which is managed according to fair trade standards, and several recently acquired vineyards in other parts of Spain (including La Rioja and Ribera del Duero). The family’s wines are marketed in 150 countries.

The Torres family is a founding member of the Primum Familiæ Vini (PFV), an association of 12 prestigious winemaker families created in the early 1990s. Other members include the owners of historic wineries and estates such as the Perrin family, Egon Muller, Marchesi Antinori and the Hugel family.

Friendship ties between Chartier and the Torres

The friendship between François Chartier and the Torres family has long been one of mutual admiration. But the ties have intensified since the creation of the Wine & Culinary International Forum, sponsored by Bodegas Torres. The Forum is held every two years in Barcelona. François Chartier has been a regular participant, brilliantly demonstrating the solidity and effectiveness of his aromatic science for food and wine pairings.

Vardon Kennett Cuvée Esplendor

Vardon Kennett was a British explorer who settled in Catalonia in the 19th century and married a local girl, before devoting himself to growing vines and producing wine. It was in his honour that the first great Torres cava was created, presented in a limited edition from grapes grown at an altitude of 500 metres in the Penedès region of Catalonia. The Vardon Kennett Cuvée Esplendor cava was instigated by Miguel A. Torres and his daughter Mireia. The family wanted the wine to reflect the actions they have taken to counter the effects of global warming, a major preoccupation for the patriarch, against which he has fought for years. The grape varieties used to make this cava are grown at higher altitudes, where the temperature is lower. These varieties are Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Xarel-lo. The Vardon Kennett Cuvée Esplendor also undergoes long aging in the cellar, giving it a complex aromatic structure.

Because Miguel A. Torres wanted to showcase the richness of its aromatic palette, he called on François Chartier to provide a unique experience for guests at the launch of the first Cuvée Esplendor.

Matching Esplendor with chocolate

François Chartier quickly came up with the idea of a pairing of high-end chocolates from Cacao Barry, with whom he often collaborates. Chocolate appeals to almost everyone and Cacao Barry offers a wide range of aromatic affinities thanks to its extensive selection of couverture chocolates from a variety of regions.

After analyzing the Vardon Kennett Cuvée Esplendor, different aromatic possibilities appeared to our expert. He decided to explore two of them to create an original Aromatic Chocolate Box: lactones and aniseed compounds. With the help of his friend, Barcelona chocolatier Enric Rovira, François Chartier then designed two unique and refined chocolates to enhance this exceptional cava.

The first was composed of Zéphyr white chocolate, comté cheese (aged 24 months) and apricot, a completely original combination of ingredients. This creation helps increase the volume and the sense of presence of the Vardon Kennett Cuvée Esplendor in the mouth. The second was an Alto el Sol Cacao Barry dark chocolate creation with matcha tea and fresh coriander, designed to enhance the length, aniseed liveliness and bitterness of this uniquely styled sparkling wine.

This is yet another example of the influence and power of aromatic compounds, on which François Chartier bases his impressive science of harmonies between food, wine and other beverages!