Toro Toro Toro

Spain’s brawni­est new wine re­gion.

Western Living - - DUE WEST SPIRIT GUIDE -

Right now, there’s no more com­pelling coun­try for wine drinkers than Spain. There’s the iconic re­gion of Rioja fight­ing a philo­soph­i­cal civil war over tra­di­tional ver­sus mod­ern ap­proaches to wine­mak­ing. And Rib­era del Duero, long used to be­ing known as an up­start re­gion, has come to grips with the idea that they’re now looked upon as the es­tab­lish­ment. And then there are the se­ries of “newer” re­gions, like Toro, anx­ious to make a name for them­selves as Spain’s next big thing.

Now newer is a rel­a­tive term in Spain. They’ve been grow­ing wine in Toro since the 11th century and were rec­og­nized with their own des­ig­na­tion in 1987, but it’s only in the last few years that the wines have started to get in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion. This is in large part due to the ef­forts of a cru­sad­ing group of wine­mak­ers led by the Eguren fam­ily, whose Nu­man­thia is not only the most fa­mous wine in Toro but has quickly be­come one of the most lauded (and ex­pen­sive) wines in all of Spain.

Tem­pranillo is the grape around here (though they use the lo­cal name Tinta de Toro), but it has a far more mus­cu­lar and brawny style than the grape shows when grown in Rioja—the wines ac­tu­ally need to have a min­i­mum al­co­hol con­tent (12.5 per­cent) in or­der to be la­belled Toro. Much like the aglian­ico grape in Italy, mod­ern wine­mak­ing tech­niques and the oc­ca­sional small ad­di­tion of grenache/ gar­nacha al­lows the wine to open up and soften ear­lier while not los­ing its fruit-driven heft.

The main trou­ble has been sourc­ing the wines over here. Nu­man­thia was re­cently bought by LVMH and as a re­sult has be­come eas­ier to find—but not any cheaper, sadly. Their base of­fer­ing here is the $100 Nu­man­thia

(the Ter­man­thia is $250); both are won­der­ful, age­wor­thy tro­phies, but there are plenty of mid-priced Toro wines that let you in on what the re­gion is all about. Chief among these is the 2008 Sa­bor Real ($17) , an out­stand­ing value that gives you an idea of Toro’s heft— there’s a swack of oak and black­berry—and a glimpse of some of its fi­nesse. The truly ex­cel­lent 2010 Elias Mora ($20) is only a few dol­lars more, and now you get waves of dark fruit that taste like they were roasted over a mesquite camp­fire. Both are brawny wines from a re­gion you should fre­quent.

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