Estancia Piedra (Spain) Toro 'Azul' 2006
Toro is a demarcated wine region in northern Spain, adjacent to Ribera del Duero. It has been gaining a big reputation in the last few years. Having shaken of the stigma of rather big and alcoholic reds, today's best Toro producers are making much more refined and elegant - though still hearty - wines. The big grape of the region is the Tinta de Toro, a local synonym for Rioja's Tempranillo. Here, Bodegas Piedra hand-harvests 40-year old Tinta de Toro which sees no oak, allowing the full, creamy blue-black depth of fruit to come to the fore. The aromas are schisty and bright, with crisp but deeply glossy black fruit and a hint of something mineral behind. On the palate there's more of that dashing minerality that means this wine stays fresh and vital from first to last, but the fruit is copious with mouth-filling blackberry and just a touch of black chocolate. Tannins are suede-like and creamy, acidity is good, and the overall package is layered and intense. Terrific stuff with bags of personality. £7.95, Berry Bros & Rudd (£7.15 by the case). Those putting together an order might also consider the 2005 Merlot Vin de Pays from Domaine Belot: I don't recommend many Merlots, but at £6.95 this stood out at a recent tasting for its wonderfully crunchy fruit and juicy vitality. £6.25 by the case.