You’d expect wines called Toro to be big, beefy and bullish. And these reds made from 100% Tempranillo (aka Tinta de Toro) from a region to the west of the more famous Ribera del Duero usually lives up to such a billing. If you like big, meaty wines to go with big meaty, er, meats, this is the place to come. But sometimes Toro can be a bit too bovine for its own good. There’s intense and there’s painfully intense; there’s ripe and there’s raisinny ripe. Many in the region still have to learn that louder doesn’t mean better.
I’ve no such complaints about a trio of recent samples from Covitoro, the region’s main co-op. The big boy of the three is the 2005 Cañus Verus Viñas Viejas (£13 D Byrne, Noel Young), and while it’s not shy on the cojones front, it’s the boldness of dark-fruited, iron-tinged old vine intensity rather than an over-zealous winemaker. Several years of life still ahead of it.
At the opposite end of the weight spectrum is the 2007 T Toro Roble Barrel Aged (£6.99 Waitrose), which has a peppery red fruit lightness, almost like Mencia or some lighter Rhône Syrahs. But my favourite of the trio – and the cheapest to boot – is the Balcon de la Villa Tinta de Toro 2006 (£5.99 Marks & Spencer), a cocktail of dark fruits with a sprinkling of brown sugar and tinges of vanilla and iron. Bargain, bring on the rib-eye.