Tag Archives: Toro

The Wild West (Toro, Spain)

Only 30 minutes away from Valladolid is the town of Toro, but the difference is so apparent you would almost guess it was 3 hours away. Driving around the villages in this area almost feels like driving through an old west town from the movies, as it feels the landscape and lifestyle feels very familiar. It actually reminds me of being back in the Salta region of Argentina, albeit on much smaller scale. Life is a bit simpler and tougher here, and it is a common site to find Toro bulls destined for the bullfighting ring grazing in paddocks by the road. In this area the valley opens up and is significantly flatter as the Duero River approaches Portugal to become the Douro and flows out into the Atlantic Ocean. The landscape is significantly drier ad tougher for the cultivation of vines, which is part of the reason viticulture was almost entirely abandoned many years ago. Fortunately many vineyards were not removed and there are some seriously old vines growing close to the ground in very sandy and sometimes alluvial soils. The rediscovery of this region came during the boom of Spanish wine, when wines like the Ermita and Pingus were gaining attention for their immense power and structure, unlike any other wine made in Europe. All of a sudden the region exploded, and the number of wineries went from six in 1998, to over 50 today. The first winery I visited on my only day in Toro brought attention to the region, and the second confirmed its status as the next big thing. The third winery shows how good and affordable wine can be made even in such a harsh climate.

The biggest church in Toro

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Sobreno – 21/06/2012

Finca Sobreno 2010 (6 months in 4-year old barrel)
Very vibrant exuberant nose of red fruits, black cherries, raspberries, very fresh and soft. Mouth-filling generous fruit-driven, approachable juicy and broad. Plenty of jammy fruit and limited oak influence. Good start.

Organic Tempranillo 2010
More elegant and fresher, brighter acids and tighter tannins. Purer but somehow more mature. More focus through the middle of the palate. Nice balance but lacking a little personality. Not reflective of the origin.

Crianza 2008
Denser more earthy darkness, slightly leathery and dusty, cassis and blood plum fruit. Quite vibrant well balanced focused and full flavoured, good clarity of fruit, again not at all oaky, nice character. Good acids, still young and fresh, nice and tight but very drinkable.

Selecion Especial 2008
Darker more intense colour. Certainly more oak influence aromatically, chocolate coconut, black fruit sweetness. Full bold soft and sweet, creamy and textural on the palate. Quite modern and new-world (whatever that means these days). Much fuller and warmer, definitely more oak influence on the flavours and textures.

Reserva Familiar 2005
Very intense sweet new American oak nose, very caramel vanilla smoky toasty banana skin influence. Intensity of sweet fruit extends through to the palate, very aggressive tannins, no finesse at all, too oaky and fruit sweet, inelegant wine. Prefer the cheaper wines.

Single vineyard tinto de toro, icon style 2008
Better character of fruit concentration and stressed vines from old stock. Good fruit, oak less influenced, not too exuberant like the previous wines. Full and intense, a little heavy on the palate. Very concentrated but balanced wine, powerful broad with some late creaminess from new oak, good depth and personality but looking a little young at the moment. Lot’s of potential, but a strong reflection of the origin.

The berries are coming

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Pintia – 21/06/2012

Interesting ripe tomato seeds, intense balsamic soy notes, dark fruits, plums currants, crushed herbs, Bright and fresh yet very intense and slightly warm, incredibly intense, very powerful and broad, dense and oppressive tannins, slightly cooked fruit, very hot vintage, wild and untamed. Some toasted caramel notes, slightly overwhelmed by alcohol.

Softer more opulent rich nose, sweeter fruit, more chocolate and nut aromas, more generous and broad red and black fruits, some sweet olive characters. Lighter and tighter than the 2006, less overt fruit, slightly cleaner. Alcohol still prominent but better contained, still plenty of freshness and life to it, better focus and slightly softer tannins, great structure but still very intense and powerful.

Closed and young, too short a time in bottle, more subtle fruits, better integration, more complexity than previous vintages, interesting savoury spice notes. Lighter still, better acids, wonderfully balanced and full, very integrated and complete, perfect structure and expression, completely fills the mouth and has sensational length. Actually drinkable, hard to believe, intense of course but an amazing expression, perfectly capturing the terroir and personality.

Three vintages of Pintia

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Numanthia – 21/06/2012

Numanthia #3 2011
Wonderfully intense dark colour, black purple. Quite reductive nose at the moment, very shut down in fruit, oak hiding a lot, needs some time to open up and express. Very dry black fruits, toasty dark floral notes, nice smoky toasty element from the oak. Dark dark toasty intense but not too heavy, retaining some acidity surprisingly, closed fruit for now, some interesting savoury spice notes, but quite sweet full tannin structure, and great length.

Termanthia 2011 #2 (hand destemmed, small oak vat open ferment)
Incredibly intense but not overly aromatic nose, wonderful dark fruits, cherries, blackberries, dark liquorice and sweet Indian spice notes, some earthy and very subtle toast notes. Wonderfully supple and soft in the mouth, builds incredibly on the palate and explodes on the back. Very powerful and warm expression, huge concentration from old vines and low yields, again retaining some freshness so it isn’t heavy or too aggressive in the tannins.

Numanthia 2010
Quite closed fresh off the bottling line, some dark fruit notes, very subtle chocolate. Much more intense and concentrated than the 2011 looks at the moment, big difference in vintage conditions? Warmer sweeter tannins, cassis, blackcurrant, slightly pruney, needs a few months transport to the US to soften and open. Quite a powerhouse at the moment.
Numanthia 2010

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What’s the deal? (Rioja, Spain – Day Three)

Despite the fact that the Rioja region only runs for about 130 km, it is an unbelievably diverse region geologically and climatically, not to mention the fat that it actually crosses three political regions of La Rioja, Basque and Navarra. The region follows the Ebra River and which sits between the Cantabrian Mountains to the northeast and another range to the South-West, and has a wide valley ideal for the cultivation of a range of agricultural products. The climate is quite interesting, as it is a combination of Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental. They are protected from rain coming from the north so it is very dry, and as they have cool air sucked up the valley from the Mediterranean so it is relatively cool at night. The micro-climate depends on a number of factors, including elevation, aspect and soil, the latter of which varying significantly from alluvial, to calcareous, to clay, limestone and chalk. The fact that most wine in Rioja is blended from a great range of these individual terroirs means that you are losing a lot of the nuances, but luckily there are estates like the three I visited today who are focusing on village and single vineyard wines in the future.

Rioja Alavesa as depicted by an artist that lived at Remelluri

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Companio de Vinos – 13/06/2012

El Transistor 2010 (Rueda, Verdejo)
Lovely bright citrus, tropical notes, not the Marlborough SB profile I have seen in others, fresh and inviting. Clean pure minerality, nice battonage notes very subtle, great fruit, but very pure balanced and drinkable. Friendly but with character.

Mountain Blanco 2010 (Malaga)
Lovely musky nose, quite subtle though, very inviting like an Italian dry moscato. Wonderful texture, appearance of fruit sweetness, bold and generous, pure and deep. Balanced friendly, wonderfully drinkable, hard to spit out.

LZ 2011 (Rioja, Joven Tempranillo)
Bright rosy black fruit nose, juicy plum blackberry, wonderfully fresh and soft, generous inviting with nice core of sweet black fruit and well managed tannins and acids. Approachable but good character.

Lanzaga 2008 (Rioja)
Open soft red fruits, subtle earth and mushroom notes. Pure focused, great drive and extension, gentle caressing tannins, not broad heavy or sweet, nice balance and concentration of fruit, some mineral characters. Fantastic integrated acids.

Altos Lanzaga 2007 (Rioja)
Darker colour, more concentrated and extractive, possible vintage-specific. Incredibly dense complex nose, very quiet fruits and well integrated oak notes. Darker more intense fruit, a little warmer on the palate, very concentrated and much more classic profile of Rioja, dark fruits, power and expression, balanced and ageable.

Gago 2008 (Toro)
Quite dark purple colour, very intense. Lovely savoury tar and black and blue fruits. Soft mellow, full and dark, slightly leathery but still very drinkable, more brooding in character, really concentrated. Amazing structure, will soften up nicely given time.

Pegaso Barrancas de Pizzara 2009 (Cebreros, 100% garnacha)
Smokier flintier more raisined notes, candied florals. Daker heavier more intense, sweeter black fruit, softer and more open, less concentration of tannins.

Pegaso Granito 2008 (Cebreros, 100% garnacha)
Seductive dark floral notes, sweet fruits very red and blue, not heavy, quite fresh but intense dark and expressive. Approachable delicious bang for buck value in a glass, what you want, what you need. Plenty of tannins.
The definition of a sustainable winery

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