2017 Toro Bravo Tempranillo/Merlot, Valencia DO, Spain (Alcohol 13%, Residual Sugar 9 g/l) LCBO $7.95 (750ml bottle)
It’s taken me some time to reach my final verdict on this particular wine, mainly because of the fact that back in January a Toronto wine writer awarded it an impressive 96 points in The Toronto Star, and with that one review Ontario’s public went absolutely bananas for Toro Bravo.
Now, let’s get this straight, being a true Scot I do love a good bargain, and it today’s economic climate who doesn’t jump on a hot tip like this, but I kept on asking myself just how on earth could a sub-$8 bottle warrant such a monumental score on the 100 point scale? With this in mind, I picked up a few bottles of this Valencian stuff and started experimenting…
Around a decade ago I travelled to Spain, mainly La Mancha and Valencia, to observe some friends of mine who were involved in the bulk wine business. We visited various wineries that had tanks and tanks of finished wine that could be bought by the container-filling mylar bag. What immediately stuck me was the quality/price ratio. Most of this stuff we were tasting was bound for the dreaded Cellared In Canada designation, but some was destined to be bottled as is (see my 2012 Xmas gift guide).
I was quite frankly astonished at the incredibly clean and polished wines that these producers could pump out at such a low cost. Now, we weren’t talking about wines that one would write a dissertation about here ; we are talking about simpler wines that were bright, fruity, fresh, and immensely enjoyable and drinkable, and I always wondered why we never saw such wines in our market here in Ontario.
Enter Toro Bravo.
In the second part of my video interview with Alex Patinos from Dionysus, we discussed his eye for what makes for a hugely successful LCBO wine, and he certainly found that when it came to this wine. For those unfamiliar with how things work at the LCBO, $7.95 is the lowest price that it is legally possible to sell a 750ml bottle of wine for. Previous to Toro Bravo I have found all of the wines at this price-point completely and utterly undrinkable, and believe me, over my 23 years in Canada I have tried them all… certainly one of the less glamorous aspects of my profession/passion.
Toro Bravo’s medium-bodied and unoaked Tempranillo/Merlot blend is undeniably a well-made contemporary wine, and is remarkably smooth and soft for a wine at this price ; there is certainly some pretty serious tannin management going on there, and that is not in any way a bad thing, making the wine an easy drinker even for those who usually shy away from drinking reds. There’s also the correct acidic twitch to align with all that gorgeously ripe black cherry fruit, making it an “okay-just-another-glass” wine.
At this price, I certainly have no complaints about what’s within the bottle, and I’ll be buying a case for the basement and one for the cottage just in case we decide to throw an impromptu barbecue party at some point this summer. Although I usually like my reds a little chilled, strangely enough this performs pretty well at room temperature.
But the question remains, it a 96 point wine? Well, not in my book, but it is a tremendous value wine that the greater majority of drinkers will find no fault with whatsoever, and that in itself makes it pretty special.
Kudos to Alex at Dionysus for bringing this crowd/wallet-pleasing wine to the the LCBO shelves as I know that a great deal of people are going to absolutely love the stuff.
Toro Bravo is represented in Ontario by Dionysus Wines and Spirits
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And yes, for the money this is pretty astonishing.