Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wine Rating: Toro - Elias Mora Crianza 2003

Before Xmas, we visited the wine region of Toro, NW of Madrid. This is a region that is famous for its potent red wines made from Tinta de Toro, a local variety of Tempranillo. The region has seen a lot of change over the last 5 years…the quality of the wines has improved dramatically, as have the prices! It can still represent good value, especially compared to its neighbour to the east Ribera del Duero! I hope to do a more in depth trip report to post at a later date.

The wines of Toro are intense and hearty, with often quite high alcohol. Just a few years ago, they could be more rustic, but now the wines have a more international profile…the same intense Toro fruit with gobs of new French and American oak! Typical of most Spanish wine regions today, the lower end wines tend to have more American oak, while the top Reserva wines often have 100% new French oak. Mixing the two oaks is the most popular practice of the moment, even mixing in some Eastern European or Russian oak. The main problems with Toro wines still remain sky high alcohol levels and over-ripe fruit in hot years.

Some of the stars of the region include wines quite well known in the export market: Numanthia, Pintia (by Vega Sicilia), and San Roman. The wine I'm rating today is from a small winery run by two dynamic women who are making amazing wines. They are still fairly low profile, but represent the modern, dynamic face of the new Toro.

Wine: Elias Mora 2003
Winery: Bodegas Dos Victorias (named alter the two women!)
Denominacion de Origen (DO): Toro
Alc: 14.5%
Grape variety: 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo)
Oak regime: aged 12 months in new French and American oak
Price: Around 12 euros in Spain

Tasting notes:
Visual: Opaque, intense ruby with purple notes, very youthful
Nose: Medium intensity. Blueberry and clove with milky/yogurt notes (very common in Spanish wines…not unpleasant). Very attractive…medium complexity.
Mouth: First impression is smoothness…ready to drink! Good balalnce between oak structure and fruit. Some intense tannins kick in at the end, but they are very smooth. Alcohol shows more in the mouth, Thoughthe wine is quite fresh, with good acid levels. Blueberry and sour cherry fruit.
Food: Quite nice with the provoleta I had with it, an Argentinina grilled cheese. The cheese is quite mild, but it had lots of Italian herbs and smoked paprika that stood up to the wine nicely.

Retaste: No retaste…all gone!

Conclusion: Very nice wine…we bought and tasted this at the winery and it didn't disappoint at home. I particularly appreciated that it comes off as an elegant, structured wine in a very hot, difficult year. At about 12 euros it is not cheap for a Toro crianza, but by international, premium wine standards, it is extremely good value. It is quite well balanced to drink now, but will improve more in bottle…the tannins will mellow out a little more. Rating: 7.5/10

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