Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Toro and its 'Tinta'

I have spent my last two days visiting wineries in the Toro DO. 

For those of you who have never heard nor tried these wines, Toro wines are known for their... How can I call it? Power? Yes, Toro wines are powerful. 

Following the Duero river, after Rueda, Toro is in the provinces of Valladolid and Zamora. Mostly reds, the main grape is Tempranillo, here known as 'Tinta de Toro'. Claimed to be the original, pre-phylloxera grape, they say the pest did not reach this land, due to the poor soils. And the are! Sand and stone, with a very extreme continental climate, one can often find vines of well over a hundred years and meters-long roots that find the water deep in the sandy soils. Very reduced yields and high concentration of sugars, being the Toro wines, high in tannins, alcohol (always around, more likely above,15%) and lots of complexity. 

The vineyards are mostly bush trained, the way they have traditionally been, and the grapes hand-harvested, selecting the best, first in the vineyard and latter in a selection table, before placing the unpressed destemmed grapes in the stainless steel vats for the first fermentation. In order to 'smoothen' the wines, the wine receives oxygen, by transferring it first to an open container before pumping it over.

Once the alcoholic fermentation is done, new French and American 225 oak barrels are used for the malolactic fermentation and the ageing. This is of course not the general rule, with slight, or not so slight, variations from winery to winery.

These strong, full of personality wines pair beautifully with the rich Castilian dishes. 

Potatoes with spareribs and vino de Toro at Restaurante Castilla

Of the five wineries I visited and the close to fifteen wines I tried, I can say that Toro is producing wines of good quality for the strong-red wine lovers, with marked land characteristics. All different and for all palates. I guess now you have to do your share of wine tasting ;)


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