Toro, a historical DO for the future


Red wine from Spain's DO Toro region in Castilla y Leo?n
Red wine from Spain’s DO Toro region in Castilla y Leo?n

A lot is said, these days, about the ‘histories and stories behind the label’, as producers and appellations across the world seek to engrave a sense of uniqueness in the minds of consumers. But few regions boast a viticultural and winemaking history as long and established as DO Toro, deeply rooted in the identity of Castilla y Leo?n. Far from emerging as a marketing necessity, in Toro this long heritage is part of a lived history that has not only endured but still shapes the region’s landscape, economy and symbolism.

What is it, then, that makes Toro unique and special? It is, above all, its singular combination of historical relevance and future potential. Along with a renewed understanding and appreciation of the region’s oenological lineage, there has also been a recognition of its privileged ability to grapple with key viticultural challenges in the near future. As climate change looms large, DO Toro has two key assets that allow it to face the future with optimism, if not excitement: an adaptable and inherently resilient viticultural landscape, and a vibrant community of skilled winemakers, itself experiencing an exhilarating moment of renewal.

Map of Spain's DO Toro region in Castilla y Leo?n

What’s in a name

Toro’s own indigenous and eponymous variety, Tinta de Toro, is sometimes mistakenly described as a local clone of Tempranillo. The reality is more complex – and fascinatingly so: Tinta de Toro has a very specific phenotypic profile, very different from Tempranillo, with compact bunches of smaller, harder-skinned berries and a distinctly savoury aromatic profile that comes to full bloom with time (more on this below). This in turn results in greater flavour concentration and a tannic structure of characteristic robustness paired with elegance.

These characteristics are further underscored by the naturally low yields and concentration delivered by old vines, of which DO Toro has a unique stock. Home to some of Spain’s oldest vineyards, most of the region’s plots are a vision of gnarled, bush-trained vines – many of which ungrafted – more evocative of sculptures than of plants.

With ageing, be it in the cellar or in bottle, Tinta de Toro wines develop a profile that departs even further from Tempranillos’. Because of its tannic structure, polyphenolic content and aromatic depth, Tinta de Toro has a special affinity with ageing vessels (oak and clay in particular), integrating their influence without losing – and in fact enhancing – its own character. The grape’s trademark savoury edge, with alluring Mediterranean herbs and salty liquorice, gains definition with time, adding ageing potential to already expressive wines.

This helps to explain why DO Toro is the source of some of Spain’s most sought-after wines, which take pride of place in fine wine collections and are increasingly valued as investments.

Vineyards in Spain's DO Toro region in Castilla y Leo?n

A tale of many terroirs

As well as its namesake grape’s singularity and oenological potential, Toro has another invaluable asset: a fascinating diversity of terroirs, reflecting breathtaking geological variation, sometimes within the same plot. Rolling hills can display Cha?teauneuf-du-Pape-like pebbly soils on one flank, giving way to iron-rich clays on the opposite side. Broadly speaking, there are eight different soil types in DO Toro, ranging from sands and gravels to heavier clays and limestones, with intricate combinations of all these. In tandem with the region’s incredible patrimony of old vines, themselves capable of adapting to the specific demands of each plot, soil diversity is an intrinsic component of the minute variations that shape DO Toro’s mosaic of micro terroirs.

Producers have long been aware of this intra-regional diversity, employing it in the creation of both balanced appellation-wide blends and site-specific bottlings that reflect the particular character of a given village or vineyard. This is increasingly reflected on the labels,…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/sponsored/toro-a-historical-do-for-the-future-521105/