Toro, the red-headed bastard stepchild of DOs, a bastion of Tempranillo in its guise as the local Tinta de Toro, has always stood in the shadow of Ribera del Duero and Rioja. Being remotely located near the border with Portugal, kept this region mired in the past and when modernization did come in the 1990s, the fad at the time was for big, oaky, powerful and obvious wines. Sadly this style did not do justice to the terroir – exchanging rusticity for the dried out tannins of too much time in too much new oak. The situation is beginning to change and a few insightful estates are just starting to explore a more elegant style of winemaking. While in its infancy, this movement has the potential to finally establish Toro as a region to watch. Bodegas Vetus was created in 2003 with the purchase of a 20 hectare property by the Anton family, proprietors of Finca Villacreces in Ribera del Duero and Izadi in Rioja Alavesa. The vineyard is planted with 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo), in a poor soil which produces low yields of concentrated grapes. The hot and dry climate of Toro produces unmistakably big wines that many producers try to tame them with plenty of new oak. The harder path, and the one Vetus has taken, is to restrain the natural rusticity of the terroir and to promote balance and elegance in the finished wines. To achieve this they are careful to harvest grapes that are not over ripe, prevent excessive extraction during winemaking and employing a greater proportion of second and third-fill barrels for the aging of their wines.
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