I first heard of Toro Loco in 2012 when it managed to scoop a prestigious IWSC (International Wines & Spirits Challenge) Silver medal. That’s no mean feat by itself, but when you consider that Toro Loco is the Aldi own-brand Spanish offering and priced at the crazy low price of £3.49, the win was all the more special. It’s no wonder that journalists were queuing up to publicise the ‘find’ (you can read more on the triumph here) and very soon it was ‘out of stock’. Astonishingly the wine remains at the same £3.49 price-point in 2016.
The wine hails from Utiel-Requena, in the province of Valencia on the mid-eastern coast of Spain. Using leading red Spanish grape variety Tempranillo alongside a healthy helping of another local variety (Bobal) this is a wine that wants to highlight it’s Spanish roots. The name Toro Loco translates as ‘Crazy Bull’ (hence the label bull/corkscrew design) and was chosen to personify the essence of Spain, from the local custom of bull fighting to the ‘living-life-to-the-full’ ethos of its residents.
When I first heard about Toro Loco back then I went straight out and bought a bottle to see if the fuss was justified. I wasn’t disappointed and, having purchased it a couple of times since, this tasting was a great chance to re-visit the current vintage on offer.
Toro Loco Superior 2014, Tempranillo (75%) & Bobal (25%), Utiel-Requena, Spain, 12.5%, £3.49
The wine is bottled under screw-cap and is a youthful vibrant clean purple in colour with a fine watery white rim.
The nose, whilst being full of character, is fairly restrained and is more about the thoughtful reflection of a local style, rather than the ‘in-your-face’ blockbuster style. I can pick up a good array of both primary and secondary aromas from the dark black cherry fruit, stewed prune and raisin, to bitter black chocolate, woody notes and floral vanilla.
After the nasal sensation, the medium body that follows has a surprising lightness of touch. Once again you get the upfront hits of black cherry and sour plum, but this is closely followed up with a typical Spanish vanilla creaminess and a touch of pepper spice. The fruits are succulent, ripe and juicy and the fresh acid drives an uplifting palate.
At the same time this wine manages to show sophistication and blends in darker touches and a medium tannin level which grips the inside of your mouth. There’s a decent layering of bitter chocolate, leathery tones and tobacco which all add together to create a deep multi-layered flavour sensation. The length is equally impressive and retains the bitter chocolate from the mid-palate.
In the spirit of delivering a balanced review, if I had to make one criticism about this wine it would be in regards to the lighter weight delivering so much character, and when I tasted this wine the following day a lot of the deeper mid-palate tones had started to disappear, almost as if too much had been forced in too soon (remember that the vintage is less than 2 years old at this point).
Clearly this is nit-picking, and on the day of opening this wine was as good as any in terms of being a fine food match. It’s worth remembering that drinking wine with food is an inherent part of Spanish culture and over time they have created a balanced wine style that suit the local flavours. I can imagine this wine pairing well with a whole host of tomato based meals, tapas dishes, stews and much more.
As a last thought, I simply can’t believe there is any way that this can be produced for £3.49 a bottle – it simply defies logic. There are numerous costs that every bottle of wine has to bear including transportation, retailer mark-up, and packaging & labelling. On top of these are the hefty VAT and Duty costs imposed by the Government which can easily make up 50% of the overall price on a standard bottle of wine. Estimates show that on a £3.79 bottle of wine only about 15p actually goes on the wine itself, and that runs the whole process from growing the grapes, to harvesting them, to the final production. To get all the above depth from 15p seems unbelievable, almost unreasonable.
It was sold out the last time I went to get it, but trust me, I’ll be buying it again very shortly if I can get it. I may even ‘trade up’ to the Toro Loco Reserva, which sees additional ageing in oak and adds Garnacha and other international grape varieties (Merlot and Shiraz) to the blend. As the premium offering for the brand, it still comes in at a very modest £4.99
Toro Loco is truly a gem of a wine and one that you don’t want to miss.
With thanks to Aldi UK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.