Wine is more than just a beverage, at least in Spain. Wine is merriment, wine is accompaniment, wine is la tierra, wine is history.
Sadly, Spanish wine is not as well known in the US as is Italian or French, and I’ve made it my mission to introduce my friends and family to my favorite Spanish wine regions. Especially, you guessed it, Toro.
Toro wine will always hold a special place in my heart, because it’s from Zamora. Zamora, as you well know, is Mario’s hometown, the place where he spent 20+ years of his life, and he feels the same way about its Romanesque architecture as I do about the rolling cornfields and endless skies of the Hoosier state. I can’t remember my first sip of Toro wine, but once I went Toro, I never really went back.
Toro wine hasn’t had the success of Rioja or even Ribera del Duero, and it’s likely because, up until a few years ago, Toro wine was, well, not palatable to the majority. As Mario likes to say, it was a wine to “tomar con cuchillo y tenedor,” a wine to drink with a fork and knife. But that’s changing, and this weekend Toro celebrated its 25th anniversary of its Denominación de Origen (Designation of Origin) with a wine festival, held in the Plaza de Toros, one of the oldest in Spain.
For €5 apiece, we were able to enter, taste five wines, and eat all the chorizo and queso that we desired. Not a bad deal, especially since most of the vendors didn’t seem to care if we gave them our little stubs anyway. Nice!
The wines I tried were as follows, and no, I took no notes, so I’m not really able to give you commentary on them. My bad. I’m not an expert; I just like wine.
- Estancia Piedra Platino—probably my favorite
- Gran Elías Mora—If you know me, you know I love Elías Mora. Obviously, I had to try their Gran Reserva, which has been aged for 17 months. A great wine, and not terribly expensive either.
- Dulce Benavides—A surprisingly great wine, this is a sweet wine made from red grapes. As my friend from the bodega tells me, one year there were a lot of grapes (uvas) that were not used and thus turned to raisins (uvas pasa). They used these to make a sweet wine from tinta de Toro grapes, which is not usually done, but it turned out great.
- Dominio del Bendito Etiqueta Dorada
- Cyan Prestigio
- Flor de Vetus
- Bernard Magrez Paciencia—Owned by Gérard Depardieu, of The Man in the Iron Mask and Cyrano de Bergerac fame.
As you can imagine, after this we were all a bit happy-go-lucky, even though we tried our best to eat cheese and chorizo (“para amortiguar”), so set off to find sustenance, wandering the streets of Toro.