Zipping west back into Castile-Leon, today’s wine was made in the Toro region of Spain, sitting several miles west of Ribera del Duero and Rueda (to be profiled soon). The main variety here is Tinto de Toro (aka Tempranillo), the tradition of which winds its way back to the days just following the “departure” of the Moors after the Reconquista. The growing season here is bold and hot and the fruit ripens a full two weeks ahead of Rioja. There are elevations here too, with vineyards planted at 600-750 metres above sea level. The result? Thick skinned fruit, lots of extract, density and naturally high alcohol. The wines of Toro can’t be anything but bold. Apparently a small amount of white wines are made here from Malvasia and Verdejo, but I could find nothing of these in the BC market. I will definitely be on the look out when I am in Spain.
Limestone or clay form the base of the vineyards, with alluvial soil over top. The legal minimum alcohol content here is 12.5% (and a maximum of 15%), but you will commonly find wines at 14% or above, all from natural fermentation. The region’s extreme climate actually makes it fairly natural to have grapes producing wines at up to 16% alcohol, so winemakers need to be careful with their ripeness levels in order to meet the regulations. There are also Reservas and Gran Reservas made here, although nowhere to be found in this market, and they are known to have an uncommon ability to retain fruit and power even with long aging. Recently, Vega Sicilia has put its paws on some vineyard land in Toro, resulting in the fabulous Pintia wine, which I’ve both reviewed in my Vega Sicilia Profile and shared with Sean of Vinifico.com fame (we had the heady and absolutely massive 2003).
I love how these wines were famous in Spain during mediaeval times, lost recognition for a while, and are now seeing a resurgence, and all for the same reason: the massive fruit-bruising style of the wines, whose high alcohol resisted oxidation and which in the modern world combine power with texture and structure in a way that the New World is often still trying to figure out.
This wine is made in a modern style with a clean red fruit nose, adding notes of licorice and oak spice (namely, baking spices). The palate is quite dry, with huge but ripe tannins and a bevy of cherry and raspberry fruit lying on a bed of savory herbs and earth. Sporting a long finish, excellent structure, good integration and reasonable heat, this is very well made. I would not call this a wine of singular distinction, but it certainly tastes good. With its dusty tannins and dusty fruit I have no hesitation calling this a dusty wine. 14.5% ABV.
$44 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar