Power and Earthy Concentration: The Tempranillos from the Toro Region


toro mapWest and slightly south of Ribera del Duero, the Toro region of Spain has been producing wine since before the times of the Romans. Until quite recently this region was considered a wine backwater and was barely recognized outside of Spain.

However, the tremendous synergy that exists between its Tempranillo toro-imdenominacion1_14-size590(known as Tinta de Toro) and the prevailing poor soils, has made an indellible mark on the palate of wine lovers around the world. Anecdotally, Toro means bull, an animal whose qualities of strength and persistence seem to have been passed to the wines from this land. So, what is so special about the Tempranillos from Toro?

Aside from the soils, which usually present sand underpinned by clay -in the northern part of Toro limestone is more common- the region receives very little rainfall. The dry, poor soils are further stressed by a scorching 2,800 hours of sunlight annually. All this results in the vines -especially the old ones- having to struggle to their limits to extract nutrients and moisture from such extreme growing conditions. The relatively high elevation of the vineyards guarantee cool nights, essential for the fruit to avoid being “baked” and for the level of acids to remain high in the berries.

The resulting grapes -and wines- of Toro are a vivid expression of the land. The growing conditions “educate” the vine, in a process which impact is gradual, slow and profound. Powerful flavors of red fruit, stone, earth and sweet tannin are the hallmark of a good Tinta de Toro. The concentration of these wines can be remarkable and distinct from most other wine drinking experiences. Many Tinta de Toro wines can easily be aged for decades, not losing potency due to their fruit concentration, unflagging acidity and tannic load. Sometimes up to 25% Garnacha is blended with Tempranillo to provide spice, aromatics and supple tannins.

Here a few tasting notes on Tempranillos from Toro available in Metro Vancouver.

Dehesa Gago 2007. Produced by prestigious Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodríguez, this Tempranillo is fully unoaked with slightly carbonic aromas and black fruit. There is a curious whiff of gasoline at the end of the nose. The richness of the body does not exclude fresh, vibrant fruit acidity. Overtones of rusticity and a marked mineral streak imprint the palate with the unmistakable flavor of Toro. Let breathe before drinking or pour through aereator. 19.99.

Viñaguareña Barrica 2006. Don’t let the long name intimidate you. This Tempranillo is awash with ripe red fruit aromas supported by smoky, toast and coffee notes. Fleshy on the palate, lingers with fruit, roasted coffee and vibrant acidity. 21.99.

Finca Sobreño. This 100% Tempranillo shows a nose with violets and strawberry marmalade. Full bodied, concentrated dark fruit and earthy minerality are the main features of this formidable Toro. The long finish lingers with traces of fruit and caramel. 32.99.

Sabor Real. Viñas Centenarias 2005. Produced from vines that average 100 years of age, this Tempranillo merited 91 Parker points. An inviting nose that is downward, intense, earthy, with cherry and cigar box. Heavyweight body with dense red fruit underpinned by charcoal and dark chocolate. The finish is strong and warm, evincing excellent alcohol integration. Deep, dark and terrestrial, this is a phenomenal drink on its own and enhanced by grilled lamb, pasta with forest mushrooms or Paella Valenciana. 24.99.

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