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DO Toro producers aim for the UK market

At the largest tasting of DO Toro wines in the UK to date, exhibiting wineries expressed their international ambitions for this small Spanish region.

The Denominación de Origen, or DO, for Toro was formally established in 1987. The region, in Spain’s northwest, is a total of 62,000 hectares in size, 8,000ha of which are under vine, and 5,418ha of that are registered with the Regulatory Board, belonging to 981 registered winegrowers.

Compared to big hitters like Rioja (65,000ha under vine) and Ribera del Duero (22,000ha under vine), it is small. But Englishman Andrew Lamberth, who was representing Pagos del Rey, told db that it has the potential to punch above its weight: “Toro has the least awareness on the UK market of any of the northern appellations. I don’t think there’s anything to hold it back other than that consumers haven’t heard of it yet. It just needs some momentum from some of the big players.”

García Carrión’s Amagoia Urtega suggested that, given stylistic similarities, it’s just a case of DO Toro producers tapping into the market: “UK consumers are used to Rioja – you can find that potential here.”

Showcasing the premium wines of Bodegas Vatan, J&O Boutique Wines managing director Javier Navamuel argued that “Toro is the great unknown for people who like Barolo”: “The beauty of Toro is that you can enjoy it young – you have to invest a lot of money into similar quality wine to enjoy it now.”

As for what the market is for wines of this level, Navamuel suggested that restaurants are a key focus: “The Vatan Arena 2015 is a dessert wine…I want to have it as my dessert. It completes a meal.”

While expressions of Tinta de Toro, a strain of Tempranillo, were well-represented at the tasting at all price points, there was also a small number of white wines on display. Among those was the Colegiata from Bodegas Fariña. Victor Conde Gomez explained what sets it apart: “Nearby Rueda are masters of Verdejo, so we focus on Malvasia. It’s very aromatic and not too acidic.”

While the largest market for Fariña’s wines is currently Mexico, which Gomez attributed to the historical connection between Spain and Latin America (perhaps fittingly, Christopher Columbus brought wines from Toro on his voyage to the Americas), he also expressed optimism that UK consumers would start to seek out wines from the region.

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