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My friends always tell me that I live mostly to enjoy the summer. It is possibly true, nothing brings me closer to happiness than these careless weeks spent between Galicia and Mallorca. The combination of loved ones, sun, sea, free time and zero duties does it.

This year during my Galicia days I discovered a young wine from Toro, Termes 2014, from Bodegas Numanthia, 19 euros. There was a hint of mint and balsamic herbs in its bouquet and I even tasted wonderful forest fruits as I drank it. Perhaps I was too much under the soothing influence of long walks along the Ulla river, protected from the sun by black and green shades, an exposure that opens your imagination. But the experience of Termes stayed with me.

A few days later in Mallorca we organized a small dinner party. The excuse was the Chopin piano festival, that takes place every Sunday of August in the long corridor of La Cartuja. Antonio and Nely, dear friends from Barcelona, brought me exactly this same Toro wine, a wonderful coincidence. I tasted it with the anticipation of mixing Atlantic memories with the scents of a Mediterranean night.

To quote from Dickens, we have finally left behind the winter of despair and we begin to enjoy the spring of hope. In this transition -we had everything before us, we had nothing before us-, I have been able to try some very good wines. I found two of them in Angelita, a restaurant next to the Gran Vía in Madrid, where the owners offer over half-glasses from 100 open bottles to pair with excellent food. The advice provided by the waiters is usually very sharp and that is how I encountered Casas de Enriba and Vive la Vida.

Casas de Enriba 2016 (35 euros) is a rare Valdeorras wine created by Laura Lorenzo in almost vertical small parcels next to the Bibei river, in the Ribeira Sacra. This holy wine is made with mencia and godello grapes. Serious and rustic, it has a perfect combination of mineral and flower overtones. Vert hard to find, a very limited production, do not miss it.

Vive la vida 2015 (19 euros), from Bodegas Vidas, is also an artisan wine from Cangas, at the heart of Asturias, made with local grapes (albarín negro, mencía…), and 12.5% alcohol content. An avant garde Atlantic wine, superb and charming, light and fruity.

Last but not least, during a great weekend in La Vera, the Southern mountainside of Gredos, I rediscovered an old friend from Toro. San Román (19 euros) is probably one of the best and most elegant red wines in Spain today. It is sophisticaded and refined, deep and self-contained. After a long walk in the Vera hills, we tried it in a Magnum 2014 format, which makes it even better. Spring was barely announced in the still cold countryside. San Román was one of the few telling signs.

Some weeks ago I was able to escape from the bleak winter of Madrid to the coast of Tunisia. During the trip I became acquainted with Angus Lordie, a portrait painter from Edinburgh. He is a direct guy, ascetic looking, with a deep voice, much in favor of whisky grants for poets and academics like himself. We did not drink any wine together but had some good conversations about politics, art and Scotland. He also chatted quite a bit about dogs with my wife. He pointed out that nowadays Edinburgh is full of wine bars, a development he welcomed as long as he was allowed in them with his dog Cyril.

When I returned home, I tried a couple of new wines that I thought Angus would like, even though he is not (yet) a wine person. Portraiture has its risks, but let me try to sketch both of these wines. The first one is Sierra Cantabria Cuvée 2005, a wine made by the Eguren family in Rioja. It is both modern and ancient, complex and pleasant. For a price of 15 euros, I do not think you can find a comparable red in Spain.

The second one is Almirez 2007, also a new-new thing of the Eguren clan, creators of the amazing Numanthia and Termanthia wines in the Toro region. Almirez is a younger brother who needs to be decanted and then surprises you with its own distinctive elegance. Each of these two wines would be a good model for Angus Lordie, painter of souls.

This summer I have taught my two year son some of the most important words in Spanish. It has been a lot of fun and also a big moment for a proud father. One day, as I was repeating to him “vino tinto” and then “vino blanco”, Santiago added with his perfect logic “y vino azul!” (and blue wine). We all laughed but later I discovered that his little creative mind was offering me a new wondrous concept: “blue wine”, which of course meant the wine I love to drink in the summer, when I alternate time by the pool with time by the sea. So here is my short list of 2009 “blue wines”, with an invitation now that summer is gone to remember and comment which were your blue ones.

I drank at the beginning of summer Pago de Capellanes, a Ribera del Duero that I had neglected before. I found it smooth and intense like a Madrid summer sunset, when you wacht it from the hills that overlook El Pardo. Then in Majorca I tried Gago 2006, a strong wine from Toro that you can almost chew. It went very well not only with pork, but with the night smells of the village of Deia, bouganvilles and sea breeze. Last but not least, and also while in Majorca I had 12 volts, a new wine from the island. In spite of its electrifying name, 12 volts is full of serenity. It had a great blackberry touch that threw me back to my childhood, when we spend summer afternoons picking up these fruits in the small mountain next to of our summer house in Valldemosa, in order to make home-made blue jam.

“Iberians on wine” has just turned one year old this December. It has been a good year. A word of thanks to you, our dear readers, and to our Guest Contributors, Fernando Vigón, Luis Barreto and Pablo Echenique. You have all helped us, busy editors, keep the blog alive and kicking. We are still amazed by the surprising number of visits per day. Please keep indulging in your eccentric tastes.

I finished 2007 watching the Ridley Scott movie “A good year” and drinking a wine that had been recommended to me by Josechu Salgado, the finest wine taster in the family, called Pintia 2003 ,from Toro (circa 27 euros). At New Year’s dinner we opened two bottles of this somewhat new kid on the block, a creature of Vega Sicilia, a little bit like a cousin from the countryside.

The first bottle of Pintia was too rustic and lacked good manners, it remind me a bit of the movie I had just watched, with Russell Crowe trying hopelessly to impersonate a British upper class banker, not terribly convincing. The second bottle, however, was very good and lived up to the high expectations we had. It was much more like “Le Coin Perdú” , the Provence wine that Crowe falls in love with.

by Guest Contributor Pablo Echenique

“El que resiste, gana”. Such was the motto that the Spanish literature Nobel Prize winner, the late Camilo José Cela chose as ex libris to stamp in all his books. He who resists, shall win, as it would be said in English. I have borrowed it as a particular motto for myself. Perhaps because of my day-to-day work in a quite demanding Madrid law firm. The other Friday, after a long and busy week, I got out of the office and decided that I deserved to drink a good bottle of wine. I headed to a quite unknown street in Madrid that is home to three first class stores that sell three things any man adores, wine, cigars and classic films of all times, calle Hernani.

When I entered the wine shop, I could notice that Camilín, the owner (I suppose that he has nothing to do with Mr. Cela), stared at me probably thinking that I really needed a break. After a few minutes of conversation I asked him about the famous “Parker List” and the Spanish wines included in such a list. He quickly named the five wines awarded with 100 points, as if he was reciting the “Our Father”. Of all five, a name called my attention “Termanthia”, a wine from Toro (a region in the old Castille, province of Zamora). I decided to save the €100 for some romantic occasion next summer but he introduced me to Termanthia’s younger brother “Numanthia”. The price of the bottle, € 29, was more friendly for a budget wine drinker like me, so I did not hesitate to buy it. Read the rest of this entry »