Go into any bar in Madrid and ask for a glass of (red) wine, and they’ll likely give you an option: Rioja or Ribera del Duero? If it’s a wine bar, they’ll likely have other options, but most of the time you’re going to be offered one of these two Denominaciones de Origen, or Designations of Origin. But Spain’s wine selection goes way beyond these two regions to include ones like Valdepeñas, Somontano, Jumilla, and even Madrid. Today, I want to talk about my favorite region:
Toro wines have a long history, starting before the Romans arrived on the Iberian peninsula. It is indeed plausible that when Cantabri’s (Celts) and Astures’ (Hispano-Celts) villages were raided, the invaders looked to steal their wine. The Romans and the Visigoths also left their marks. During the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth century, Toro wine was sold outside of the region and royal privileges were granted to them. There was a great demand for the wine at this time, especially among the pilgrims walking along El Camino de Santiago, so much so that King Alfonso IX of León ceded Toro territory to Cathedral of Santiago so that they would make their wine there as well!
Fun fact: in fourteenth-century Seville, the king prohibited selling any wine but Toro!
Toro wines are made from the tinta de Toro grape and are known for being full-bodied, powerful wines with rather high alcohol levels (14% is normal). If you like tannin-rich wine, these are the wines for you!
In honor of today’s Feria del Vino de Toro, I’d like to list some of my favorite wineries from the region (keeping in mind I haven’t tried them all!).
1. Elias Mora
I know I’ve mentioned them before, but if you’re looking for quality + price, they’re your people! Also the winery is run by women, which is always a plus. Their regular wine, aged six months in American oak, is delicious and runs about €6 a bottle in Zamora!
Source: Bodega Cyan
Cyan was founded in 1999, but it is indeed one of Toro’s most recognized wines, as I have found it in my dear old Indiana. Nonetheless, they only produce about 150,000 bottles per year, helping them to maintain their quality standards.
Check out their Cyan Roble for low-cost, high-enjoyment wine!
3. Estancia Piedra
Source: Cofre Regalo Estancia Enológica
Estancia Piedra was actually started by a Scot, Grant Stein. In Scottish, Stein means piedra or rock, thus the name Estancia Piedra.
For a real treat, try the Piedra Platino, which spends 18 months aging in oak barrels and another 36 months before it goes on sale. You won’t regret it.
Funnily enough, I’ve only ever had Numanthia wines in the States, as it can get rather pricey and my parents footed the bill. Forbes called it “Spain’s best red wine.” Robert Parker gave Numanthia’s Termanthia wine a perfect 100 in 2004, one of only nine Spanish wines to receive such a score.
Liberalia takes its name from the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera. Liber Pater was an ancient god of fertility and wine. We drank Liberalia Cuatro on Thanksgiving, the perfect accompaniment to a fine roast turkey!
Matsu first caught my eye because of their intriguing bottle art, quite different from most. The youngest wine shows a young man, the slightly aged wine shows a middle-aged man, and the oldest shows a rather decrepit old man. Matsu is a Japanese word that can be translated as “wait.” All their wines are naturally cultivated; they do not use herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides.
So the next time you’re visiting a wine shop in Spain (or anywhere else for that matter), try asking yourself the following: “¿Un tinto? ¡Un Toro!”