San Román Garnacha 2019, a new future for Toro's Garnacha

7 October 2021

Few would have thought that one of the Revelation Wines of this edition of the Peñín Guide would come from the Toro appellation. That's the thing with large areas, 'revealing' a new trajectory or path is much more difficult.

Nominado Viñas del Cámbrico Rufete Blanca

Toro remains in our minds an area where great red wines are found, some of them even recognised as classics within the wide range of wines that exist in Spain. However, in this highly respected area, we are not used to seeing big changes, at least as far as regulations are concerned. So when its regulatory board announced a major change in its regulations we knew that it would have some positive consequences, although to be honest we didn't expect it to take so long to arrive.

San Román Garnacha 2019 is the best single-varietal representation of Garnacha that reaches our table with the Toro label, according to the latest change approved in its regulations at the beginning of this year. Thanks to this amendment, Toro red wines are no longer obliged to work with a majority of Tinta de Toro in their production. With this change, and as of this year, wineries can now make single-varietal Garnacha wines as long as at least 85% of the grape is present.

One of the first wineries to respond to this stylistic opportunity in Toro was the San Román winery. The house created by the legendary Mariano García, who was responsible for Vega Sicilia wines for 30 years during the period when the winery became an icon.

Mariano García was also the creator of Aalto together with Javier Zaccagnini and also had time to create his own family projects such as Mauro, Garmón Continental and San Román, today also in the hands of the second generation of the family, Eduardo and Mauro Alberto.

San Román Garnacha has arrived at the best possible moment, creating a high-profile Garnacha wine, whilst maintaining the house style based on flavour, balance and well-assembled ageing.

Talking to Eduardo García, in charge of viticulture and oenology at the winery, he reminds us that when his father arrived in Toro in 1997, Garnacha was present in the area, but it was just starting out. "It is a variety that was introduced in the area more or less in the 1960s and that came directly from Navarra -says Eduardo- that's why the winegrowers in the area call it Navarrese".  However, Garnacha did not have the fame and prestige it has today, so the locals substituted it with grapes such as Cabernet or Merlot. At that time, San Román owned 15 hectares of vineyards, of which only two were of Garnacha. Today they have 130 hectares of which 15 are Garnacha, which represents about 16% of the Garnacha present in the whole D.O.

Eduardo GarcíaEduardo García

Until now, Garnacha from Toro could only be used for blending wines and only in a very small percentage, which meant that these wines ended up bottled as local wines or even as table wines. However, with the changes accepted this year, a new scenario is opening up for winemakers in the area, as shown by San Román.

There is still an issue to be solved in the area, which is allowing the production of Tinta de Toro and Garnacha coupage wines freely, because as the current regulations stand, "you can only make two types of red wine: red wine with at least 85% of Garnacha Tinta and red wine with at least 75% of Tinta de Toro", something that does not make much sense and that we understand will be corrected soon.

San Román garnacha 2019 had a predecessor vintage, 2018, of which only one 500-litre barrel was produced, some 600 bottles. This wine was released on the market in 2021, as the winery was aware that if they waited a little longer to present it, it could be bottled with the D.O. label. So they waited a little longer for the regulations to allow them to label it as a D.O. wine.

Uva garnachaGarnacha grape

Months later, the 2019 vintage was produced, with 1,900 bottles (3 barrels of 500), which will be released this autumn. The production of this great Garnacha is limited to a single vineyard. This is the Pago del los Almendros, a 1.4 hectare vineyard planted in 1964 in the El Monte area, in the municipality of Villaester. Located at an altitude of 710 metres above sea level, it has a very deep sandy soil with a little gravel and a clay bottom located at a great depth, which according to its creators gives the wine a more aromatic profile and a greater capacity to sustain its flavour and finesse for a longer period of time.

San Román Garnacha 2019 is a wine that opens new horizons in the Toro D.O. with the possibility of offering bottlings with a lighter robe, less structured, more fruity, floral and fresh, expanding the range of wines that until now the area could offer. The next harvests in Toro will surely bring new Garnacha offerings that will give a more precise picture of the behaviour of this grape variety in this producing region. This wine family has hit the bull's eye with a high-flying Garnacha, setting a goal for future winemakers to surpass.

    Written by Javier Luengo, director editorial de Peñín