Elias Mora

Vino de Toro—There’s More than Just Rioja in Spain

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:

Denominación de Origen Toro

Source: Vinotic


Un Tinto Un Toro

¿Un tinto? ¡Un Toro!

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!

2. Cyan

Cyan Roble

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

Estancia Piedra Roja

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.

4. Numanthia

Numanthia Winery

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.

5. Liberalia

Liberalia Toro Tres

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!

6. Románico


The 2010 Teso La Monja Románico wine, produced by the Eguren family, is an entry-level wine, but Robert Parker valued it at 92 points. If you’re ever in Zamora, ask for it!

7. Matsu

Matsu Wine

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!

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Bodegas Elias Mora

Two weeks ago, I got the chance to visit my favorite bodega (winery), Bodegas Elias Mora. Thanks to my friend Ángela, who’s the owner/operator’s niece, I felt comfortable enough to attend the Festinto 2012, even though it was technically open to the public. I did learn one thing, though: when they say the party starts at 9, don’t get there until 10, or someone will say to you, “I don’t know who you are.” Don’t be on time, did you hear me?

Oh well, if we’d arrived later, we wouldn’t have gotten as good of photos.


Although Elias Mora is DO Toro wine, it’s actually located in a village of Valladolid, San Román de Hornija, which has a population of about 425. Thus, the party was mainly for friends/family of the winery, as well as some villagers. I was the only guiri, of course, but we were welcomed with open arms. Mario even got to help bring boxes of wine out for the party. (Because I lead a life of luxury, I don’t carry boxes. No, just kidding—I had my hands full.


Our view for the night—not too shabby, right?

There was all the wine you could drink, accompanied by delicious quesado curado (a cured sheep’s milk cheese, which is my favorite), bread, chorizo, and desserts. Not bad. Not bad at all.


Barrels lined with sprigs of rosemary.

Afterwards, they had a local band ready to play all night long, as is typical in Spain, but Mario and I, not being huge partiers or night owls, decided to head home around midnight. We had about an hour’s drive home.

If you ever visit Spain, don’t miss Toro wines. They are distinct from Rioja or Ribera del Duero, some of the most popular wines. I especially recommend Elias Mora, which you can buy here for about €6€8 for the joven bottle. Their crianza and Gran Elias Mora wines are both worth checking out as well, but you’ll have to offer up a bit more money. However, I thoroughly believe their wines are great values, and you won’t regret purchasing them.

Thanks Ángela (and the rest of you at Bodegas Elias Mora)!


If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the Elias Mora Facebook and Twitter pages, or contact them directly.

Zamora + La Guiri

Hello, all. I’ve taken a bit of a social media hiatus, however lame that may seem. I mean, I still got on Facebook and Twitter; I just merely glanced at them. I’ve been occupied, you see … in my adopted hometown of Zamora.

The past weekend included great lunches by Mario’s mother (the best cook in Spain, obviously), running along the Río Duero, Elías Mora wine, wedding dress shopping (!), tapas, and attending a first communion. Totally normal. (Not really. Spain, I’m back!) Spain is wonderful in May; I highly recommend it. My Zamoran abuelitos are out in full force, and it’s all I can do not to pretend to be a jounalist so I can snap their photos.

 Ahh, Zamora.

My days now will be filled with running, wedding planning, great food, sunshine (I hope), tapas, cheap delicious wine, learning photography, and enjoying life with Mario to the fullest.

Of Little Significance

Have you ever met someone who’s profoundly affected you and then lost contact? Of course you have; we all have. But there are probably dozens more people that—after all’s said and done—ended up as not-that-important. You know, the person you meet on the train or the airplane and have a fun conversation with, but soon forget about, except for every once in a while when you think, Hmm, I wonder what happened to her.

In Spain, I’ve had loads of those sorts of encounters:

  • The Korean lady who ran an alimentación shop in Toledo. Study abroad isn’t really about studying, in case you haven’t heard. Inside the walls of Toledo, there wasn’t even a Carrefour or Eroski, so we did all our late-night shopping there, buying liters of Mahou or boxes of Don Simón sangría.
  • Pablo, a Spaniard, who studied in Cologne. Pablo chose la Fundación José Ortega y Gasset (which we affectionately referred to as “The Fund,” pronounced with the long Spanish “u”) to stay during a vacation. I can’t even remember why anymore. We lived in a renovated convent, and, while it was located in a rather idyllic place, it was still a dorm. We talked about politics (why we had reelected George Bush and whether Obama would be elected), Spanish food, and studying. I don’t remember much else.


A view from my room.

  • My first intercambio, Carlos. We were a true intercambio—we spoke one hour in English and one in Spanish. Always. He gave me my first insights into the true Spain, not just the idealized version I had read about in books.
  • My Spanish teacher in Salamanca. I can’t remember her name anymore. She at first thought I was horrific at Spanish, but soon realized I am just shy. She finally coaxed it out of me. When she heard I was dating a Spaniard, she told me, “¡Qué bien! Es la mejor manera de aprender un idioma.” Or something like that. I finished my classes with her and never saw her again, except once—through a window. She smiled knowingly, the kind of smile where you realize you don’t have much to say to the other person, but you had indeed shared something.
  • The waiters at this certain bar in Zamora. It was close to my house, comfortable, and free wifi. (Remember, in Spain it’s pronounced wee-fee.) I would usually head there in the late evening, grab una copa de Elías Mora for the ridiculously good price of 2€, and settle down for a nice Skype date (but maybe not as often as my mother would have liked).

People come and go; I’ve come and gone from several different places. We all change, and in some ways we all stay the same. I’m still me, after all. It’s jarring to think of these people, people I laughed with, ate with, talked with … existing somewhere out there without me. They live and go on. So do I.

Do you have these sorts of people in—well, out of—your life?