The City of Toro it's Wine & Gastronomy
I have two great friends that I’ve known since I arrived in the Basque Country and that’s around 25 years, Tomas and Elena. I met Tomas by chance; one day I needed a taxi to take me from the village where I was living and still live Mungia (12km from center of Bilbao) to the airport. Tomas took me and I told him that I was flying to Switzerland and would be back within two days to which he responded, I’ll pick you up when you arrive, I said fine but advanced that the flight would arrive around 11:25 pm, and he replied no problem, years later I found out that he used to get up every day at 05:00 am to pick up workers from Bilbao that worked in a factory in Mungia. Well that started a relationship that extended to other member of our company and all visiting clients, he never said no to a service and never questioned the time and destination of same, a great professional appreciated by all. He retired many years ago and his daughter Ana Maria took over his taxi berth in Mungia and kept attending our group and its various companies. In any case Tomas family are like family to Luisa and I and we are very close. When he retired he moved to his birth city of Toro and lives there with Elena very happily, Luisa and I have visited Toro and surroundings on many occasions and love its people, gastronomy and wines. The food and cuisine is very different from what we are used to in the Basque country, but both are fantastic delicious and very tasty. Today I’ll introduce you to the area, gastronomy and wines.
Tucked away in western Castilla y León (a large autonomous region that encompasses historic towns like Salamanca, Leon, Avila, Zamora, Segovia, Burgos and Valladolid), and only a mere 40km from the Portuguese border, the DO (appellation) of Toro is a historic, overwhelmingly rural region known for its bold red wines. Its 62,000 hectares extend throughout a floodplain bounded by the Río Guareña and Río Duero, the latter a wide river responsible for nourishing such great wine-producing areas as Ribera del Duero, Rueda, and the Douro and Porto regions of Portugal. The closest city is Zamora, which has a beautiful Parador and an amazing amount of Romanesque architecture including the spectacular San Salvador cathedral. Toro is firmly on the wine lovers map and has a few excellent restaurants.
Tempranillo, here called Tinto de Toro, has been the primary grape grown in the region since the times of the Christian “Reconquista”, when an influx of bishops, priests, scholars and members of the royal family created a sophisticated market for fine wines in the 11th and 12th centuries. The DO was created in 1987 with just four wineries, but the area’s proven success, combined with ever-rising land prices in other Spanish regions, . Fifteen years ago, there were only 10 wineries in the Toro D.O. today there are over fifty. Today’s Tinto de Toro is an early-ripening grape known for being thick-skinned and potent, which translates into character-filled wines noted for their color, strength and jam like flavors. Vineyards sit at the relatively high altitude of 600 to 750 meters and are made of a mix of clayey, sandy and calcareous soils. Since summers can be long, hot and dry (although with cool, crisp nights), vines are able to tap into the moisture trapped deep in these clay soils. Most of Toro’s best-known wines are 100 percent Tinto de Toro, although wines with just 75 percent of the variety can still qualify for DO status. Other varieties grown here include Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon (although only Garnacha is permitted to accompany the Tinto de Toro in DO-certified wines). A few white wines are made as well, mainly from the varieties Malvasía and Verdejo.
The DO takes its name from the city of Toro, a center of winemaking that sits high above the banks of the Río Duero. Known for its medieval architecture and stunning riverside setting, Toro was the site of Spain’s first university before it was moved to Salamanca. This historic town city was a center of culture and learning in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by remnants like the Colegiata, the Romanesque collegiate church, which is considered one of Spain’s finest examples of Romanesque design. Other winemaking centers include Morales de Toro and Venialbo.