TORO is a Spanish Denominacion de Origen (DO) for wines produced in the Castile and Léon areas of Zamora province.
The DO takes its name from the town of Toro with wines made locally since 100 BC and where King Alfonso IX 1300 years later granted lands to religious orders with the obligation to plant vines.
Many of the 40 churches that still exist in Toro – which sits above the Río Duero and boasts medieval architecture and the site of Spain’s first university – were built through wealth generated by the wine trade.
Producers established underground bodegas to ensure more effective temperature control, as many vineyards sit at 600 – 750 metres above sea level amid sand, clay and calcareous soils that suffer climate changes from winter lows of -11c to summer highs of 37c.
Due to the protection provided by the sandy soils, Toro vines were not affected by the phylloxera louse at the end of the 19th century, and many vineyards 80 to 100 years old are now the source of grapes for special cuvées.
Tinto de Toro, which is synonymous with Tempranillo, is an early-ripening grape with small berries and thick skin translating into intense, deeply coloured, full-bodied, tannic and excellently valued wines that pair well with meat dishes.
Most of Toro’s best wines are 100 per cent Tinto de Toro, although those with just 75 per cent of the variety and blended with Garnacha, also qualify for DO status.
Tempranillo Colegiata by Bodegas Fariña (100 per cent Tinto de Toro) and Caño Tempranillo-Garnacha (Blend) by Bajoz are among my recommendations.