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Red Northern Spain Over £10

And the winner is...

Victorino 2008, Teso la Monja, DO Toro

This is the Eguren family at large, the makers of Señorío de San Vicente and Paganós in Rioja, who won international fame with the Numanthia Termes wines of Toro (now part of LVMH, with Termanthia retailing at £80-£120 a bottle) and who subsequently set up Teso la Monja to ‘make something more affordable, fruitier, and elegant.’

The new project was begun in 2007 with vineyards in Valdefinjas, Toro and Villabuena del Puente in typically sandy soils with large stones, providing good drainage. The vines are low-yielding, ungrafted Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo clone) cropping at 15 hl/ha (as against the legal maximum of 42 hl/ha), so concentration and complexity are at a maximum.

The wine is named after Victorino Eguren, the father of Marcos, who established the Sierra Cantabria bodega, along with his brother Guillermo in Rioja in 1957. The wine is selected grape by grape, fermented in oak vats with malolactic and a further 18 months in new French (Bordelais) barrels.

Marcos Eguren is truly a master winemaker (at a recent DECANTER blind tasting of Rioja I gave two of his wines 19/20) in the modern style and, given that Toro is widely seen as the new face of ‘classic’ Spanish red wine, this is in keeping with that tradition.

Interestingly, Victorino himself, along with his brother-in-law Martín Cendoya, went on to establish Bodegas Heredad Ugarte in Lagurdia, Rioja Alavesa, in 1989.

Written by John Radford

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