For this first blog I’m going to be talking about two of my current favourite vinos on our list, little gems from lesser known regions that offer fabulous value for money. The vinos are from ‘Toro’ and ‘Rueda’ regions, that border each other in the province of Castilla y Leon, in central North West Spain, with Toro just 40km from the Portuguese border.
‘Montespina Verdejo’ 2011, a white vino from Rueda, 13% vol 100% Verdejo.
Rueda’s main towns are Valladolid and Segovia, with the river Duero flowing to the north of the region. Its main production is white vinos and for my money, alongside Albariño (Rias Baixas), they make the best whites in Spain. The main grape used here is the indigenous Verdejo but they are also currently producing some fine Spanish Sauvignon Blancs.
Ruedas vinos are deliciously fresh and fruity yet dry and full of character. Verdejo is my favourite white grape variety with great freshness, good balanced acidity and a rich, soft body.
The soil in Rueda is rich in minerals, stony but easy to farm with excellent drainage and ventilation, ‘gravelly’ is a word you will see used to describe the soil at the best bodegas here. With very long cold winters and dry hot summers the vines here search for their water resources deep underground, giving a higher influence of the ‘terroir’ on their vinos than in most other European regions.
Bodegas Avelino Vegas harvest their grapes for this Verdejo in the Segovia area, using older vines which impart more flavour and character. It has a straw yellow colour with aromas of fresh fruit and white flowers, on the palate it explodes with tropical fruit and has a soft creamy finish. This was a gold medal winner in the ‘Monde Selections’ , Brussles 2009.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to seafood and fish dishes, particularly lobster and crab, also white asparagus and mild firm cheeses.
Some other Rueda Verdejos I would recommend would be ‘Protos’ , ‘Prado Rey’ and ‘Birlocho’.
‘Pago Del Oro’ 2009 Crianza, a red vino from Toro, 14.5% vol, 100% Tinta del Toro.
Toro, with its main town Zamora, on the river Duero is mainly known for producing red wines, with its native grape ‘Tinta del Toro’, which is a local variant of Tempranillo. Some whites are also produced, with some fine ‘Malvasia’ vinos which I’d like to cover in a later blog.
Toro’s red vinos are classically Spanish, BIG reds packed with fruit that are usually higher in alcohol (14%-15%), full bodied yet smooth elegant.
The style of vinos produced here are similar to those of ‘Chateauneuf du Pape’, with a clay based soil covered by large rocks and stones, which absorb the heat during the day and release it at night giving an even growing temperature allowing the grapes to mature slowly and develop those complex, jammy flavours.
For centuries the best area in Toro for growing fruits, vegetables and especially grape vines, has been known as ‘El Oro’, it’s close to the river Duero in the southern part of the town of Toro, this is where the San Ildefonso family grow the grapes for ‘Pago del Oro’, on vines that are a least 30 years old.
This is a wonderful wine and the 2009 vintage is a stunner that’s currently drinking very well. It’s a Crianza that’s been aged for a minimum of 8 months in the barrel and 6 months in the bottle. It has an intense deep-red cherry colour with purple tones at the edges, big aromas of wild blackberries, spice and light toasted notes from the American oak barrels. On the palate it’s meaty, with fine ripe tannins, has soft textures and a long aftertaste.
As you would imagine the Pago goes well with red meats, game and cheeses but I think this is a perfect Tapas vino that won’t get lost amongst the big flavours and variations of classic Spanish Tapas.
Some other Toro reds to keep an eye out for are those from Bodegas Fariña, Viña Bajoz and CoViToro.