From 20 to 50-year-old vineyards. Fresh with soft tannins, marked fruitiness and an agile structure.
Current vintage 2019
Encapsulates the character of Toro red wines made with grapes from vineyards that are more than 40 years old located in different villages. Exuberant, deep and mineral.
Current vintage 2018
From Paraje del Pozo, a five-hectare estate with 45-year-old Tinta de Toro vines grown on very poor sandy-clay soils. A marvel of fineness and complexity.
Current vintage 2016
San Román Malvasía
The winery’s first white wine. Made with 60-year-old bush vines in the El Pinar vineyard on sandy soil. Delicateness and tension in this original single vineyard wine.
Current vintage 2020
San Román Garnacha
Current vintage 2019
The entry-level red is the 2018 Prima, and it’s from a cool and rainy year that delivered a good crop and was picked from September 12th. It’s a blend of Tinta de Toro (a.k.a. Tempranillo) and 15% Garnacha and other varieties, and it fermented in 12,500-liter stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in oak barrels and foudres for 14 months. It’s creamy but has more integrated oak, as they now don’t use any 225-liter barrels anymore. This has an approachable profile that is aromatic and floral, and it’s juicy and has a succulent palate. It’s fruit-driven and polished by one year in bottle. This has to be one of the finest Primas to date. 200,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2020.
Although this is the entry-level wine from Bodegas San Román, it would be a bad mistake to underestimate it, as it is exceptionally well made and among the very best wines made anywhere in the world at its price level. Although recent vintages are easier to enjoy when young, as they are less oaky (this is true also for the “San Román” bottling, due to the introduction of a high-end “Cartago” bottling in 2013 that has garnered more of the newly purchased barrels), this is still a sturdy and serious wine that manifestly merits either cellaring or consumption upon release, and rewards either of these choices handsomely. Restaurant buyers should be particularly attentive to this, as the wine can be a hit on the floor as soon as it is delivered, but also improve almost however long it sits in inventory. My bottle was actually better 24 hours after being tasted initially, which is very impressive for a wine in this price category; the fruit was still fresh, the integration of fruit, wood, acidity and tannin was even more impressive, and the wine had picked up savory undertones that didn’t show as expressively immediately after opening. In sensory terms, this is really a medium-bodied wine that offers the aromatic and flavor impact of a full-bodied one, making for great versatility with food: it won’t overwhelm a dish based on pork or even chicken, but can pair beautifully with lamb or beef without being remotely washed out. Almost every $25 wine should run and hide if threatened with a head-to-head comparison with this wine.
The 2018 Prima’ bottling from Bodegas San Roman is composed of a blend of eightyfive percent tempranillo and fifteen percent garnacha. The vines range from twenty to fifty years of age, are farmed organically and are in conversion to biodynamics. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and was raised in combination of seventy-five percent French and twenty-five percent American oak, with all of the casks used. The wine comes in at 14.5 percent octane and offers up fine nose of black cherries, plums, cigar wrapper, a nice touch of soil and a gentle framing of nutty oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with good focus and grip, fine nascent complexity and a long, ripely tannic and nicely balanced finish. This carries its octane very well indeed, and though there is a hint of backend heat, the wine will age very gracefully and is quite impressive. 2028-2055.
The entry-level 2017 Prima has meaty notes, hints of iron and soil. San Román had less influence from the killer frosts of the year, and the wines are not as structured. The grape harvest for this wine started in August, the earliest ever. Surprisingly enough, the wine is more aromatic and floral than ever, perhaps the influence of Garnacha. It has a serious, chalky palate, dry and tasty. A surprise for the vintage. 208,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in February 2019. This matured in 500-liter barrels and foudres, and the oak is very integrated.
2020 – 2024
Dark ruby. Mineral-accented blackberry, cherry compote and baking spices on the deeply perfumed nose. Sappy, palate-coating red and dark fruit liqueur flavors pick up smoke, vanilla and candied licorice qualities with air. Turns spicier on the persistent, subtly tannic and penetrating finish, where the red berry and floral notes repeat strongly.
Color: cereza oscuro. Aroma: tostado, especiado, cacao fino, chocolate. Boca: sabroso, tostado, fino amargor.
Picota violáceo de capa alta. Intensa vía nasal, recuerdos de ciruelas, moras, fresas, flores azules, tofe, hierbas aromáticas, nuez moscada, sándalo, caramelo rojo y repostería. Fresco, jugoso, estructurado, jovial y vibrante paso. Persistente final primario y especiado.
Fruta silvestre algo más madura que en añadas precedentes, flores, hierbas balsámicas, especias dulces, finos tostados, sotobosque y mineral, taninos firmes, excelente acidez, equilibrio, textura y potencial.
Wild fruit slightly riper tan previous vintages, flowers, balsamic herbs, sweet spices, toasted oak, undergrowth and mineral nuances, firm tannins, great acidity, texture, balance and ageing potential.
The entry-level red 2016 Prima was produced with grapes from a cooler growing season with an early but long harvest. It’s mostly Tinta de Toro with some 10% Garnacha and other red grapes. It fermented in stainless steel, including malolactic, and matured in French and American oak barrels and foudres for 12 months. They are increasing the percentage of foudres used, trying to respect the fruit. It has nice fruit and good freshness, and it’s lively and fresh. This is approachable and drinkable, with a nice, soft texture, kind of light for a wine from Toro, in a way reminiscent of a red from Douro. A soft, lighter and fresher style. 215,000 bottles produced.
2018 – 2023
Bold black-fruit aromas include a very ripe note of prune. Typical of wines from San Román in Toro, this is a tannic number but within reason. Savory oak pushes a bacony flavor onto blackberry fruit, while this is meaty and spicy on the finish, sort of like beef jerky. Drink this strong boy through 2026.
Saturated ruby. Vibrant cherry, red currant and exotic spice scents show very good clarity and take on a brisk mineral nuance with air. Seamless, lively and focused on the palate, offering juicy red fruit and floral pastille flavors and a hint of vanilla. Very fresh and lithe in style, finishing long and silky, with fine clarity and gentle tannic grip.
There was one more vintage to taste of the entry-level red, as the 2015 Prima was in tank and ready to be bottled. The 2015 is juicy and young but it soon opens up to reveal a fine wine. In this vintage they started using some 500-liter oak barrels for the aging, where the wines age slowly, which is something they like for a wine like this where they want to preserve the fruit. This meaty red will result in some 200,000 bottles.
2017 – 2021
Color: cereza intenso. Aroma: fruta madura, hierbas secas, roble cremoso, fruta roja. Boca: potente, fruta madura, especiado, taninos maduros.
The entry-level 2014 Prima is a blend of Tinta de Toro, 10% Garnacha and a little bit of white Malvasía. It matured in used barrique and oak vats to keep the fruit. 2014 is a cooler vintage, from a very balanced year and the wines show more freshness. This Prima keeps the primary fruit and feels young, but it has good depth and a very pleasant mouthfeel. Some 200,000 bottles were produced.
2017 – 2021
The 2013 Prima was bottled in May 2015, and is a blend of Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo) and 10% Garnacha with a little bit of white Malvasía. The wine matured, part in used barrique and part in oak vats, in order to keep the fruit. 2013 was a cooler vintage, which in Toro produced a slow ripening of the grapes. Bright ruby-colored, the nose is cooler, earthy and showing fresh herbal aromas with red fruit and more mineral notes as it opens up in the glass, where graphite, peat and some notes made me think of a classical wine from Bordeaux. The palate is medium-bodied, with very fine tannins and good acidity; it is very elegant, balanced, fresh and easy to drink. 175,000 bottles were produced.
2015 – 2019
The 2018 San Román was produced with Tinta de Toro grapes from a cool and wet year that delivered a healthy crop. The grapes are from different organically farmed vineyards in the villages of Morales de Toro, Pedrosa del Rey and San Román de Hornija and were vinified by plot in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. It matured in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 24 months. This is very young, and compared with the polished 2017, it feels raw. But 2018 has to be one of the finest vintages here; the oak is quite dominant and tannic, but the freshness and balance will make it develop beautifully in bottle. It has ripeness and black fruit and is spicy, with a touch of licorice and ink. This wine has a lot of everything! It’s one of the years with more acidity since they started here in 1997. 112,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in February 2021.
This is – and has been for two decades – one of Spain’s finest bodegas, and yet all the wines continue to show improvement, even accounting for the different character imparted by different growing seasons. 2018 was a cooler year, more along the lines of 2016 than either 2015 or 2017, and though this shows wonderful freshness as a result, it is definitely not short on the muscle suggested by this DO’s (i.e., appellation’s) name. This is a highly expressive wine in the vintage, showingwine assures a full decade of positive development. Oak spice is evident on the nose but certainly not overbearing, and though wood tannins add a bit more grip than is optimal for current consumption, the wine isn’t overly rough for those who wish to try this now to determine whether to buy more for future consumption. The fruit profile isn’t as ripe as in 2017, and the wine isn’t as soft and rounded as a result, but the inner energy is actually superior, and the aromas more intricate. The crucial indication that this will develop from something extremely promising into something truly terrific shows up in the finish: the pure midpalate fruit notes initially give way to tannin and wood-derived astringency, but then the fruit re-asserts itself and smooths out the long finish, leaving ripe fruit flavors rather than wood or tannins as the last sensory impression. Very impressive.
I tasted two vintages of their flagship and eponymous wine, starting with the 2017 San Román, from one of the driest years of the decade, resulting in a very early harvest that started in late August in San Román de Hornija. This comes from a selection of over 40-year-old ungrafted and head-pruned vines on stony soils with clay and limestone in different villages of the appellation. It fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts and matured in 225- and 500-liter French and (30%) American oak barrels for 24 months. There was no frost in 2017 in their zone of Toro; despite the warm year, they had rain during the harvest that slowed things down, and the wines are perhaps lighter than 2018. It’s not a warm or classical vintage, at least for San Román. It’s approachable and has abundant but fine tannins, polished, quite unusual, more elegant than powerful. All these wines feel quite oaky when young, so if you don’t want them like that, you should give them a few year in bottle. 98,900 bottles produced. It was bottled in February 2020.
Bodegas San Roman is owned by Mariano Garcia (longtime cellar master at Vega Sicilia) and his family, and this is the sister property of his Mauro estate in Ribera del Duero. They bought their first vineyards here in 1996 and opened their winery the following year. Their 2017 San Roman Tinto is composed entirely from organically-farmed old vine tempranillo, with the vines ranging from sixty to one hundred years of age. The wine is fermented with native yeasts and aged for two years in a combination of French and American oak casks, with only twenty-five percent of the wood new each year. The 2017 comes in listed at 14.5 percent octane and offers up a superb bouquet of cassis, black cherries, sweet new leather, cigar smoke, a nice touch of tempranillo spice tones and a deft framing of nutty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and complex, with an excellent core of fruit, impressive balance and grip, ripe, well-integrated tannins and a very long, classy finish. There is a wisp of backend heat here, but this is Toro after all (in an age of global warming), and the wine is really very well balanced and carries its alcohol very well indeed. It will age beautifully. 2030-2080.
The 2017 rendition of San Roman is packed with power and also packed with assertive oak, and accordingly is recommended for cellaring or for more near-term consumption by those who enjoy overtly spicy, toasty wood accents along with big fruit flavors. Notably more assertive than the restrained, stylish 2016, this is still undeniably excellent in its way, with dark berry fruit and savory undertones managing to hold their own despite the very prominent influence of new oak (25% in most vintages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage is higher in this 2017). After my initial evaluation of this release, I kept it open on my tasting bench and returned to taste it on three subsequent evenings, knowing how well it absorbs its oak over time when cellared. And sure enough, it became better over every successive day, with the fruit standing rock-solid in freshness and flavor impact while absorbing and integrating the oak. I’d have continued this experiment if not for the fact that the wine was so delicious on day for that I polished off the bottle. For the patient, this will prove immensely rewarding.
Color: cereza intenso. Aroma: fruta madura, hierbas secas, roble cremoso, potente. Boca: potente, fruta madura, especiado, taninos maduros.
Picota granate bien cubierto. Intensa y compleja vía nasal, sutiles aromas de fresas, frambuesas, moras en confitura, tabaco en pipa, incienso, sándalo, caramelo rojo, tarta de arándanos, piedra de río, nuez moscada, clavo, tierra húmeda, bizcocho, ahumados, etc. Potente en su ataque, gran esqueleto y carga frutal, excelente viveza y equilibrio, recorrido aterciopelado, amplio. Larguísima vía retronasal llena de matices. Un toro armónico.
The 2016 San Román was cropped from a generous vintage, which meant great balance in the grapes, good freshness, very fine tannins and less concentration. Having said that, I think the wine has great aging potential; it’s not really a light wine (it’s Toro after all), and it has structure and good grip and a classical profile, still quite generously oaked and in need of some time in bottle. They used a small percentage of 500-liter barrels for the élevage of some plots. It should turn into a very classical García wine with a few years in bottle. 100,000 bottles produced. It matures in oak for two years. It was bottled in January 2019.
2021 – 2028
Dusty earth and dried herb notes frame black cherry and currant flavors in this harmonious red. Firm tannins and bright acidity give it focus and structure. Balanced, with depth. Drink now through 2026.
Brilliant violet. Expansive, oak-spiced black raspberry and blueberry aromas pick up cola, woodsmoke and vanilla accents with air. Supple, weighty and seamless on the palate, showing impressive focus and spicy lift to the deeply concentrated red and dark fruit preserve, cherry cola, mocha and spicecake flavors. Stains the palate without showing any excess fat. Finishes sweet, creamy and extremely long, with polished tannins, a repeating blue fruit note and a touch of dark chocolate.
Muy joven, en fase de desarrollo. Aromas de fruta bien madura, tonos de roble de calidad, fondos minerales y de monte bajo. Equilibrado, con cuerpo y nervio, consistente pero no rudo, sabroso, expresivo.
Color: cereza intenso. Aroma: fruta madura, hierbas secas, roble cremoso, chocolate, cacao fino, fruta negra. Boca: potente, fruta madura, especiado, taninos maduros.
Frutos negros maduros, cerúleos, mineral y reductivo (trufa, turba), marcado carácter varietal (regaliz, hierbas), cacao, especiado y algo acético, taninos sabrosos, excelente acidez cítrica, con textura y potencial, no tan perfecto como en añadas precedentes.
Ripe black fruit, waxy, fine mineral and reductive notes, truffle, peat, pronounced varietal carácter (herbs, liquorice), cocoa, spicy and slightly acetic, succulent tannins, excellent citric acidity, with texture and ageing potential, not as perfect as previous vintages.
The eponymous 2015 San Román was produced with fruit from a dry and warm year, from one of the earliest harvests to date (but records are broken almost every year, and 2017 was even earlier). It’s always sourced from old, head-pruned and ungrafted Tinta de Toro vines on stony, limestone and clay soils in different villages of the appellation,including Morales de Toro, Pedrosa del Rey and San Román de Hornija. It fermented in wide stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts and matured for 24 months in oak barrels, 70% French and the rest American It’s ripe, wide, hedonistic and generously oaked. A powerful, generous vintage of San Román. It should age nicely in bottle. 95,800 bottles were filled in January 2018.
2018 – 2025
Cocoa, licorice and spice notes frame ripe plum and currant flavors in this rich, generous red. The firm tannins are well-integrated and balsamic acidity keeps this lively and balanced. Harmonious, in the modern style. Drink now through 2030.
Classy aromas of lemony oak, cigar box, bramble and berry fruits set up a massive palate with fierce tannins and years of aging potential. Dark, toasty flavors of pure cacao, charred oak and black fruits finish with power and structure. Decant if drinking anytime soon; best from 2022 onward.
Deep, shimmering violet. Expressive, spice-accented aromas of blackberry, cherry liqueur, vanilla and licorice, plus a smoky mineral nuance in the background. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering juicy black and blue fruit and violet pastille flavors and a suggestion of exotic spices. Rich yet lively in style, with a very long, gently tannic finish that features lingering smoke and mocha notes.
Color: cereza intenso, borde granate. Aroma: fruta madura, floral, varietal, especiado, piedra seca, ebanistería. Boca: redondo, elegante, sabroso, largo, tostado.
Fresca opulencia, con carácter. Profundo en la nariz, concentrado; marcados frutales, tonos minerales y de crianza en barrica. Bien armado en la boca, con cuerpo y energía, taninos firmes de calidad, equilibrado, sabroso, expresivo en aromas.
Atractivo picota de capa alta con ribete granate. Intenso, profundo, recuerdos de cassis, moras en confitura, chocolate, hojaldre, ahumados, nuez moscada, canela, tierra húmeda, trufa, tinta china, sándalo, hoja de tabaco… Complejo, con esqueleto bien armado, amplio y envolvente recorrido muy frutal. Persistente y larga vía retronasal con elegantes maderas.
I also had the opportunity to taste the 2014 San Román, which has benefitted from one extra year in bottle. The year was less warm and ripe than 2015, but the fruit is still quite ripe, but without excess. It has nicely integrated oak and a powerful mouthfeel keeping the poise and elegance. The flavors are focused, and the end is long. 95,000 bottles produced.
2018 – 2024
The 2013 San Román was produced with fruit from older vineyards in Toro. In 2012 they started reducing the amount of the new oak in this wine and the change is quite noticeable. There is something leafy and floral showing elegance within the power that the place provides naturally. 2013 was quite different in Toro from Ribera del Duero, here the cooler years are a plus, as they balance the extra ripeness the place provides. In 2013 there was no rain during the harvest and the grapes were very healthy. There are some fine tannins and the profile of a more austere and transparent vintage, a mineral year. But it does have the smokey and slightly wild character of Toro. 87,000 bottles produced.
2017 – 2022
The 2012 San Román is produced with the fruit of their older vines out of their 96 hectares of vineyards in Toro. They have reduced the amount of the new oak here. The aromas are very mineral of red clay, iron, a mixture of plums, black and red cherries and again something earthy, elegant and complex, developing meaty notes with time. The palate is medium to full-bodied, fresher than 2011, with very fine tannins and very good acidity. This is a superb version of San Román. This is one of the few wines from Toro that actually improves with time in bottle. 93,000 bottles were filled in March 2015.
2015 – 2022
The 2011 San Roman, is year in, year out, one of the most reliable wines of the appellation, pure Tempranillo (locally known as Tinta de Toro), the fruit from over 35-year-old, ungrafted and head-pruned vineyards planted on sandy, stony soils rich in clay in different villages across the Toro appellation. The wine aged for two years in French and American oak barrels, 80% of which were new. It’s an earthy wine with plenty of dark aromas of peat, fountain pen ink, graphite and tar, with very ripe fruit, black and blue berries. The palate is quite full-bodied, with abundant but fine tannins and enough acidity and persistence. A Toro with character. Drink 2015-2019.
2015 – 2019
The 2009 San Roman comes from 45-year-old bush vines or older in San Roman, Morales de Toro, Arjujillo, Villaester and El Pego between 720 and 760 meters and sees 24 months in new and used French (70%) and American (30%) oak. It offers a very seductive bouquet with luscious red berry fruit – raspberry, wild strawberry infused with crushed violets that open with aeration. The palate is full-bodied and very well-balanced, ripe succulent tannins, plush blueberry and black cherries forming the core followed by a silky, ripe, sensual, velvety smooth finish. Modern in style, but extremely well-crafted, this is a sensational, delicious Toro red. Drink now-2018+. Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos is one of the leading lights of Toro. Founded in 1997 by former Vega Sicilia winemaker Mariano Garcia Fernandez, they own 60 hectares of vineyard in San Roman de Villaester and Hornija, mainly planted with Tinta de Toro and Garnacha, the average age of vines around 35 years interpolated with vines on un-grafted rootstock. The oak aging here is very prudent, with around 20% renewed each year, both French and American. The present winemaker is Mariano’s son Eduardo Garcia Montana, who trained in Bordeaux and Burgundy among other regions. These exceptional wines were suffused with personality, purity, a life-affirming sense of “controlled opulence” that, to be frank, put many a more expensive Toro wine in its shade. What is more, a bottle of 2001 San Roman testified to a Toro that truly does age with style and panache.
2013 – 2018
The 2007 San Roman is 100% Tinta de Toro aged for 25 months in seasoned French oak. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it gives up an already complex bouquet of toasty oak, pencil lead, damp earth, licorice, tapenade, and blackberry. Layered and multi-dimensional on the palate, it lacks the power of a great vintage such as 2009 but the result is a more immediately friendly wine that can be enjoyed from 2015 to 2022 if not longer. Bodegas Maurodos is owned by renowned vigneron Mariano Garcia and his sons Eduardo and Alberto.
2015 – 2022
The 2016 Cartago Paraje del Pozo coms from a 45-year-old vineyard of Tempranillo or Tinta de Toro with some 10% of other varieties and matured in barrel for 30 months. This is a long-distance runner, a wine designed for the long haul, serious and with great balance. It’s one of the finest vintages of Cartago since the initial 2012. It’s ripe, powerful and concentrated, with lots of tannins and a touch of iron and blood. It’s a classical old style Duero that should repay time in bottle. In this high-yielding year, the wine feels more fluid and fresher. Despite all that, the wine is quite tight but has good depth. Like many of the wines I tasted this time, this is the finest vintage to date, rounder and deeper. All of these wines have a very marked style. 4,916 bottles were filled in June 2019.
This is probably the best newly released wine I’ve tasted in 2021, and we’re into late October as I’m writing this, so that’s saying something. Only time will tell how great this wine will become as it approaches maturity, but time is very much on the side of this gorgeous, superbly balanced, remarkably intricate wine. So deeply pigmented that there’s almost no “edge” to the wine even when tipped in a big glass under bright light, the impressiveness begins optically even before sniffing or tasting. That initial impression is only corroborated on the nose and palate, as the wine shows excellent aromatic expressiveness and very deep flavors, but without the barest hint of excessive oak scents, or any overt heaviness in the mid-palate or finish, which is the magic of this 2016 vintage in several important appellations in Europe, ranging from Bordeaux to Barolo and beyond. The fruit is especially pure in this vintage, showing dark cherry notes at its core but also other shadings of fresh berries, and though “purity” is the prime impression, the wine isn’t pure in an un-complex sense. On the contrary, the different “shadings” I just referred to are evident to differing degrees from when the wine first touches one’s palate through the finish, and they also show themselves differently as the wine warms and breathes in the glass over time. Oak spice is beautifully interwoven with the fruit flavors, and though wood impressions are somewhat assertive in this new release, they certainly don’t overwhelm the fruit at any point the sensory experience that the wine provides even now. Still, there’s no doubt this will be significantly better in another 5 years, and better still in 10. Beyond that, I’d be engaging in guesswork, but there’s no doubt this has a full decade of positive development ahead of it. Truly a spectacular rendition of Tempranillo.
The 2015 Cartago Paraje de Pozo bottling from Bodegas San Roman is produced from a forty-five year-old vineyard that is farmed biodynamically, planted on franc de pied rootstock, planted to ninety percent tempranillo and the other ten percent being a field blend of other varieties. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged fully three years in a combination of used and new casks; the 2015 vintage comes in at 14.5 percent octane. The bouquet here is deep and excellent, wafting from the glass in a complex blend of black cherries, sweet dark berries, cigar wrapper, a touch of meatiness, beautiful brown spice tones and a refined foundation of new oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and complex, with great midpalate depth, excellent, salty soil signature, ripe, chewy tannins and outstanding focus and grip on the long, complex and well-balanced finish. This is still a young wine and need at least another decade in the cellar to fully blossom, but it is going to be a stellar bottle in due course. 2031-2080.
The 2015 Cartago Paraje del Pozo comes from a more opulent vintage and feels quite different from the rest of wines from the García family I tasted next to it. 2015 is a warmer and more tannic vintage. This feels a little more classical, a serious wine designed to develop in bottle, where it should absorb the oak. It had a long élevage of 30 months. It was bottled in July 2018.
2022 – 2034
This red has structure and depth, but remains balanced and approachable, winth black cherry and plum flavors mingling with notes of coffee, dried herb and loamy earth. Not showy, but harmonious. Drink now through 2030.
Opaque ruby. Ripe dark berries, cherry cola, vanilla and pungent flowers on the deeply perfumed nose. Smooth, broad and sweet on the palate, offering impressively concentrated cherry liqueur and blackberry flavors and subtle hints of mocha, licorice and spicecake. A smoky nuance emerges with air and carries through the extremely long, gently tannic finish, which echoes the floral and vanilla notes.
This is a fantastic release from the uber-talented Garcia family’s outpost in Toro. The richest and most “impressive” of the three vintages of this wine that I’ve been fortunate to taste, it shows a lovely aromatic wisp of woodsmoke, but from somebody’s else’s campfire, not one right under your nose. Scents of ripe fruit are also evident, showing both red and black fruit tones along with suggestions of baking spices. In palate profile, it offers medium-plus body with good density but no sense of heaviness, and much more flavor impact than sheer weight, with no hint at all of over-ripeness from a hot, dry year that could easily have produced that result. Clearly based on extraordinary fruit sourced from an un-grafted single site with vine age of 45+ years, this is on the lavish side in terms of fruit that’s nicely counterbalanced by a well-measured dose of the finest oak, which lends extra grip and complexity. By “well-measured,” I mean more specifically that the proportions of fruit and oak in the wine’s aftertaste are almost identical to when the wine first tips out of the glass and onto one’s tongue. This is a very special wine made to improve for many years, but the fact is that it is already beautiful and easy to enjoy with food.
This red has structure and depth, but remains balanced and approachable, winth black cherry and plum flavors mingling with notes of coffee, dried herb and loamy earth. Not showy, but harmonious. Drink now through 2030.
Color: cereza muy intenso. Aroma: complejo, expresivo, especiado, mineral. Boca: elegante, lleno, largo, persistente.
Sólido, vigoroso, con futuro. Profundo en la nariz, rico en finos matices, con base de fruta madura. Buena estructura y equilibrio en la boca, sabroso, con nervio.
The gran reserva style, single-vineyard 2014 Cartago Paraje del Pozo comes from a 45-year-old plot on very poor soils that, like all old vineyards, has a majority of the dominant red Tinta de Toro but has around 10% of other varieties that add complexity. This wine has an extended aging of some three years in oak barrels, and it’s released one year after its bottling. 2014 is a very complete and balanced year, which has produced a concentrated and powerful Cartago, with plenty of tannins, quite tight and austere, in need to develop further complexity in bottle and to tame the tannins. It slowly opens up in the glass, showing spicier and more complex and nuanced with time and air. This could be a better wine than the 2013 in the long run. 3,900 bottles were filled in July 2017.
2020 – 2029
Initially, this big-time Tempranillo from Bodegas San Román smells lactic and chocolaty, with a hint of marshmallow to go with black cherry and blackberry fruit. On the palate, this is rugged and tough, something you can embrace but can’t avoid. Black cherry, cassis and dark plum flavors finish with cocoa notes, and the more air this sees the better it will perform. Drink through 2030.
Picota granate de capa alta. Intenso, armónico, marcados aromas de moras, arándanos, flores azules, chocolate con leche, nuez moscada, canela, grano de café, romero, tomillo, betún, carbón vegetal, cedro, incienso, finos cueros, tierra húmeda y un largo sinfín de matices. Potente, profundo, muy complejo, aterciopelado y elegante recorrido. Persistente y envolvente vía retronasal con finos recuerdos frutales, especiados, minerales y de boletus. Lleno de finura.
Intensidad alta, potente y rotunda en nariz, con presencia de frutas rojas en sazón, notas balsámicas y minerales y un fondo ligeramente tostado con recuerdos de juanolas y tinta china. En boca es amplio, estructurado, frutal, de tanino maduro, muy buena acidez y un final largo con recuerdos ahumados.
Contundente, bien ensamblado. Profundo; singulares aromas de frutos negros bien maduros, notas florales, balsámicas, especiadas y minerales. Vigoroso, con cuerpo y sólido, algo cálido, sabroso.
Despite the challenging conditions of the year, they also produced a 2013 Cartago Paraje del Pozo, which is a very fresh year for Toro. It has aromas of tar and licorice, a bit wild, with power and good freshness. It has abundant, fine grained tannins. This is a vin de garde, with structure and tannins, from a cool vineyard in a cool vintage, very apt to lie down in your cellar. It has already developed some complexity, notes of tea leaves, dark chocolate, meat and underbrush. Some 3,800 bottles produced.
2018 – 2030
Amplio, rotundo, noble fuerza. Nariz profunda, rica en matices; fruta bien madura, discretos tonos de crianza, minerales y balsámicos. Potente, equilibrado, con cuerpo y energía, centro sólido.
There is a new label from Maurodos, a ‘Gran Reserva’-styled red from a single vineyard that will be launched in April 2017, the 2012 Cartago Paraje del Pozo. It is Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) from an ungrafted 45-year-old vineyard with contained ripeness planted on sandy soils, which tend to produce the most elegant wines of the region. It also contains 10% of other more aromatic grapes. It matured in brand new French oak barrels for three years. It certainly has something in common with the 2013 San Román; it shares a slightly wild and rustic profile, with lots of iron notes and an earthy touch. The extended élevage has polished the palate and the wine has a sleek texture. The nose keeps developing in the glass, with spicier notes, aromatic herbs and things that made me think alternatively of Barolo, Bordeaux, or even of a red from Douro sometimes. The wild side definitely showed hints of leather and beef blood, somehow meaty and earthy. A noteworthy debut. 1,900 bottles and 90 magnums were produced in this first vintage.
2017 – 2027
2019 was a low-yielding vintage, and the 2019 Malvasía is the third vintage of this white from San Román that is produced with Malvasía Castellana grapes, which are not as aromatic as other Malvasía varieties. It comes from a 60-year-old organically farmed vineyard called El Pinar on sandy soils where they also apply biodynamics. It fermented in 500-liter oak barrels, where the wine matured for 10 months with two bâtonnages per month. It has moderate alcohol and a very healthy pH. It’s not a very floral variety and is more like the Doña Blanca, somewhat austere and shows the soils where it’s planted. 2019 follows the line of 2015, with a little more freshness, and the wine is ripe but without excess. It has some aromas of dried herbs and spices and is clean and more expressive and open than the previous years, approachable but serious. It has a harmonious palate with integrated oak and with a salty touch on the finish. It’s very balanced and elegant, subtle rather than exuberant. 2,400 bottles were filled in July 2020.
This is the only white wine that I can recall every tasting from Toro, and I was very happy to see that the 2019 version was a superb follow-up to the exceptional 2018 vintage of this cuvee. As I mentioned last year, this wine is made from sixty year-old Malvasia vines grown in the organically-farmed El Pinar vineyard; the wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for ten months in French demi-muids prior to bottling. The 2019 comes in at 13.5 percent octane and delivers a superb bouquet of breadfruit, lemon peel, a touch of green olive, salty soil tones, wild fennel and a topnote of menthol. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, deep and complex, with a superb core, lovely soil signature and grip, good acids and a very long, beautifully balanced and classy finish. 2021-2035.
Amarillo pajizo, intensa vía nasal, recuerdos de manzana, paraguaya, papaya, lichis, mantequilla fresca, jazmín, cedro, vainilla, finos ahumados, piedra de río y laurel. Fresco, untuoso en su ataque, estructurado, tanino amable, equilibrado recorrido. Persistente final primario, mineral y especiado.
The second vintage of the white from Toro is the 2018 Malvasía, produced with Doña Blanca grapes, which are known locally as Malvasía Castellana, a more austere grape that shows more the soil than the variety. This matures in 500-liter oak, and it goes unnoticeable. Bottled without malolactic, it felt a little reductive and austere at first. It’s a grape that shows vibrant acidity and minerality. This is delicious now but has the balance and stuffing to develop in bottle. 2,400 bottles were filled in July 2019.
2020 – 2024
Light, bright yellow. Highly perfumed, mineral-accented aromas of white peach, pear, tangerine and smoky lees, plus a bright floral overtone. Juicy and densely packed on the palate, conveying richness as well as vivacity to the mineral-laced orchard and pit fruit flavors, which pick up an orange zest nuance with air. Shows impressive power and sharp delineation on a long, penetrating finish that leaves hints of buttered toast and citrus pith behind.
Agradable, tostado. Aroma: flores blancas, fruta de hueso, especiado. Boca: sabroso, seco, especiado, fruta madura, fácil de beber.
Singular, atrevido. Aromas de frutas blancas maduras, sutiles florales (flor de acacia, azahar) y minerales (fósforo), notas lácteas. Cierta estructura, textura glicérica, seco, suave, sabroso, amplio, fino.
The 2018 Malvasia from Bodegas y Viñedos San Román is produced from sixty year-old vines, which are farmed organically and are ungrafted, as the soils in the El Pinar vineyard are quite sandy. The wine is barrel-fermented with indigenous yeasts in five hundred liter casks and aged for ten months prior to bottling. The 2018 comes in nicely balanced at thirteen percent octane and offers up anascently complex bouquet of lemon, green olive, tart pear, a lovely base of soil and a topnote oflemongrass. On the palate the wine is crisp, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with great focus and grip, excellent backend mineral drive and a long, zesty, bone-dry and very serious finish. This is still a young wine and it will very clearly improve with further bottle age, though it is already very easy to drink! It is the first white wine I can ever recall tasting from Toro and it is far beyond my expectations!
Drink date: 2020-2035+.
The first white from the García family in Toro, the 2017 Malvasía is sourced from one of the oldest vineyards planted with the variety (Malvasía Castellana, which is not the aromatic Malvasía most people would think about) in the appellation, from 60-year-old ungrafted vines in the El Pinar vineyard in the village of Morales de Toro. It fermented in 500-liter oak barrels, where it was kept for ten months. The vinification is very similar to the white from Mauro. The wine was still in barrel—the plan is to bottle it in August 2018—so it was a bit cloudy and reduced, with a slightly austere personality. The palate has roundness and a soft mouthfeel, with good balance, and it’s not heavy despite being a warm and very early vintage. It’s not clear what the variety is, but many people think it’s Doña Blanca. It has 13.5% alcohol and a pH of 3.2 (quite low), meaning moderate alcohol and good freshness, as the grapes from this warm vintage were picked the 24th of August, the earliest ever. 1,300 bottles produced.
2018 – 2022
The second vintage of the pure Garnacha, the 2019 Garnacha comes from the same grapes as the initial 2018, and it fermented with full clusters and natural yeasts and matured in 500-liter French oak barrels until bottling. The two years feel very different. They picked the grapes a little earlier in 2019, and the wine is more floral and elegant. The color is bright, and the wine is rounder and the tannins are more polished. They tell me a big difference was that this 2019 underwent malolactic (like the 2020), but the 2018 did not do it because it has a very low pH and they respected it and bottled it with a little more acidity. 2,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2021.
Garnacha is now allowed as a varietal wine by the Toro appellation, and the García family is releasing one of the first examples with the 2018 Garnacha. It comes from 60-year-old organically-farmed vines from Los Almendros in the village of Morales de Toro at 710 meters in altitude. The full clusters were foot trodden and fermented with indigenous yeasts for 21 days. The wine, which reached 15% alcohol, matured in 500-liter oak barrels for 19 months. It’s quite different from the 2019 that I tasted next to it; this is darker and has a different aromatic palate and feels darker, more tannic and powerful. This feels more Priorat; it has concentration and structure, reflecting the vintage, and the 2019 is more aromatic and has finesse. Only 650 bottles were filled in May 2020.