Toro is among Spain’s most respected Denominaciones de Origen (DO); an esteem it shares with its Castilla y Léon counterpart, Ribera del Duero. It is located on the Duero River, which bisects the wine region’s northern half, and its difficult climate fosters robust grapes and, in turn, powerful wines.
Toro was among the first Spanish regions to be granted DO status, which it achieved in 1933. However, considerable suffering during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, caused that original DO to become obsolete. The modern DO was declared in 1987.
With an extreme continental climate (cold winters but long, hot summers), temperatures in the DO vary greatly, ranging from -11°C in winter to 37°C in summer. Rainfall is light, around 350mm annually on average. The region receives about 2,600 to 3,000 hours of sunlight per annum. Most of Toro’s vineyards sit between heights of 600 to 800 metres above sea-level.
The red wines of the region are predominantly made 100% of Toro’s Tempranillo grapes (known locally as ‘Tina da Toro’). Rosé wines are made from 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha, meanwhile white wines are made from 100% Verdejo or 100% Malvasía.
Tina da Toro grapes benefit from the difficult climate to blossom into fruit of deep colour and high tannin content. The high daytime temperature, abounding sunlight, and low rainfall lead to potent grapes, which ferment into wines of a very high alcohol content. Local wine laws impose an upper limit of 15%, however in practice most producers try to keep alcohol levels below 13.5% for greater balance.
Photograph by Jacinta Lluch Valero via Wikipedia. Used through a Creative Commons licence.