If you are prepared to venture further afield than the great names of Rioja and the Ribera del Duero, Spain can offer wines of extraordinary value for money. The issue is, in outlying regions, quality and style can vary and it therefore takes time to locate the examples that punch well above their price points.
Courtesy of a good friend, I tasted a very fine Toro yesterday; an unusual wine in that it is made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache). If I considered the quality – and transposed the wine to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, arguably the home of great Grenache, I daresay the price would be significantly higher. Simply put, 2018 Piedra Prohibida ‘Garnacha’, Toro at £150 per 12 bottle case in bond is an absolute snip and received unanimous approval on the Atlas tasting counter, despite an unusual ‘Adam and Eve plus snake’ silhouette label…
Here is the background on the estate:
Toro is a Spanish ‘Denominación de Origen’ or to use the French, ‘appellation’, in Castile y Léon, just to the north-west of central Spain. The region is famed for bold, powerful reds largely made from Tinta del Toro (aka Tempranillo). As could easily be expected, summers here are long and hot, easily attaining high thirties Celsius in the height of summer and the winters can be cold. The vineyards of Toro are relatively sandy yet may incorporate differing levels of clay as well as pudding stones (similar to those typical of areas of Châteauneuf-du-Pape).
In 1999 a Scottish-born lawyer, Grant Stein, purchased a large parcel of vines in Toro’s Guareña valley, including vineyards originally planted in 1967. A lifelong advocate of Spanish wines, Grant has invested extensively in the estate, developing a well-crafted range of wines that manage Toro’s natural exuberance and capture fine freshness and purity. The Prohibida stole the show in yesterday’s range tasting – it is produced from the ‘Boccarage parcel’, the largest of three vineyards that constitute the Piedra estate.
Please see my note below.
2018 Piedra ‘Prohibida’ Garnacha, Toro
£150 per 12 bottle case in bond
The juicy, fresh berry aromas capture scented floral notes that overlay the vibrant deep raspberry fruit. This juicy accent continues on the palate, which reveals a generous, soft-textured fruit – all summer berry notes with hints of herb and spice. This is a mouth-filling, ripe Garnacha, that walks the line between exuberance and restraint. The palate boasts that more-ish baked dark fruit character that reminds me of the Southern Rhône. Supple, pure and already drinking well; the Prohibida will no doubt develop over the next five years, but there is no need to hold back. 2020-2025. (SL)
Wine of the year this may not be, but an affordable, appealing, surprisingly well-made Garnacha it certainly is.
All the best,