Toro is an extreme winemaking zone. Located west of Valladolid at around 700m above sea-level and over 300km from the Atlantic, the climate is continental with long, hard winters and short but aggressively hot summers. The goblet vines are generally very old and yield a fraction of what winemakers in most other regions would demand of their plants, and must be worked and harvested entirely by hand. The two Frenchmen who established this small winery in 2009 decided to make things even harder for themselves, by choosing a tiny plot of just 2.3ha, on which it must be hard to turn a profit even in a good year, and finally by doing all of this as a side-line to their full-time jobs – 600km from their home town of Bordeaux!
Jean-Pierre Guyomarc’h is a medical man, an ear-nose-throat practitioner who has been mad about wine for as long as he can remember. He married a girl from Rueda whose family had owned vines in the area for generations, but it wasn’t until their children had left home that he started to think seriously about becoming a winemaker. His brother-in-law, Bernard Benito, runs the family road transportation business, and gradually the two developed a plan to produce the best wine they could from the family’s best vines. They picked a tiny parcel of very old vines on the edge of the tiny village of San Román de Hornija that lies just a few metres from the front gates of Pintia, the Toro bodega of Vega Sicilia.
Beginning with the 2010 harvest, they produce two wines from 100% Tempranillo vines, or Tinta de Toro as it is known locally. The focus here is on perfect fruit and harvesting dates are decided meticulously between the owners and their consultant winemaker to retain maximum freshness in the grapes. Epónimo is their flagship offering, a powerful yet refined red with deep colouring and an impressive balance of tannins, acidity and minerality. Barrel-ageing in 60% new oak can last up to 24 months depending on the vintage, and this wine is garnering strong recognition especially from the Spanish press (93/100 Guía Peñín for the 2012), high praise indeed considering the owners are foreigners. Aromana is the estate’s second wine which is more immediately approachable, fruit-forward and succulent, a real crowd-pleaser.
Quantities are of course tiny, a few thousand bottles of each wine per vintage, but all stock is held in Bordeaux so should be easily accessible to customers already planning shipments from there.
|Aromana, Bodegas Toroeno, Toro, 2011|
|Aromana, Bodegas Toroeno, Toro, 2012|
|Epónimo, Bodegas Toroeno, Toro, 2010|
|Epónimo, Bodegas Toroeno, Toro, 2011|
|Epónimo, Bodegas Toroeno, Toro, 2012|