Worldwide interest in the wines of Toro took off in 2001 with the launch of the 1998 Numanthia Toro red and the high scores it received from Robert Parker Jr., wine’s most influential critic at the time. It was a monster wine, deeply packed with dark, ripe fruit flavors and tricked out in a powerful, lush and well oaked style. It was also very well priced.
In fact, the Numanthia was a steal compared with similarly praised wines from more established regions. Priced at about $30 for a 95 point wine, it was the stuff of dreams for point chasing wine lovers. And it launched the meteoric rise of interest in Toro.
Set on a plateau along the Duero River in the western side of the province of Castilla y León in north-central Spain, Toro wines are by nature powerful, and one of the few regions where the wines can readily stand up to robust oak aging without overshadowing their heady fruit flavors. Winemaking history in the region goes back to Roman times, and sturdy Toro wines even traveled with Christopher Columbus on his ship, La Pinta, to the new world.
The extreme continental climate of the area is where the power of Toro wine originates. Toro is very hot and very dry with harsh winters. The soils are mostly sandy and stony, and home to the Tinta de Toro grape, a local clone of Tempranillo, which has adapted to the climate over centuries.
The combination of the Tinta de Toro grape with the geography, soils and climate of the area (the terroir of Toro) results in small, thick-skinned grapes. The high ratio of skins to liquid is what gives Toro wines their power when pressed and made into wine. Throw in lots of old vine vineyards, some with vines 100+ year old, pre-phylloxera vines, and you have a recipe for a serious wine region.
If rich, bold, dark fruit flavors, full tannins and by no means shy alcohol levels are what you are in the mood for, Toro is your wine. Pair with rich pork dishes or just about any red meat as part of a big, hearty meal. Roast lamb and oxtail braised in wine are classics of the region, or try a potato and chorizo stew.
For more on Toro see:
Disclosure: Although Spanish-Wine-Exclusives, the import company I co-founded, imports Spanish wine, it does not import or have any commercial relationship with any wine from Toro.