Mes de España parte dos: Toro
Toro, a red wine zone in Castilla Y Leon, is another little pocket of Spanish gems. Famous throughout Spain since medieval times, the region boasts some of Spain’s oldest vines.
Tinta de Toro, like Tinto Fino of Ribera del Duero, is a variant of Tempranillo that has adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of the area (temperatures can drop as low as -11 degrees C in the winter!). If left to ripen during the warmest months, the grapes can produce wines with very high alcohol levels, so DO regulations put a cap of 15% on all wines. As a result, winemakers are careful to pick at the right time.
The thick-skinned grapes make for character-filled reds famous for their colour and strength. Most of Toro’s best-known wines are 100 percent Tinta de Toro, although wines with just 75 percent of the variety can still qualify for DO status. Other varieties grown here include Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon (although only Garnacha is allowed to be blended with Tinta de Toro in DO-certified wines). A few white wines are made as well, mainly from the varieties Malvasía and Verdejo.
Toro was a key wine region during the Phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century. The sandy soils in the area restricted the spread of the destructive insects, so the vines were relatively well protected. As a result, exporting to France and further afield became a big business. The region was officially granted DO status in 1987.
For a piece of Toro magic, check out our Decanter Silver Medal winner, Quinta el Refugio Tinta de Toro. Selling at €8.39 (for the month of February), this is easily drinking like a €12 or €13 wine.