For years the wines of Bodegas Fariña have been one of Spain’s best kept secrets. But now the winery that put Toro on the map as an important wine making region is returning to the United States.
Last month I had the opportunity to meet winemaker Manuel Fariña and taste several of the current releases. Mr. Fariña, who inherited the winery from his father in the late 1960s, comes across as friendly and passionate about winemaking. His somewhat reserved demeanor hides his truly impressive achievements. Mr. Fariña is considered the founding father of the Toro wine region and played a key role in the region’s modernization. He was the first to install stainless steel fermentation tanks, the first to implement temperature-controlled fermentation and the first to use a destemmer. Mr. Fariña also moved up the grape harvest by one month to September, which resulted in more elegant wines with lower alcohol levels (13% to 13.5% instead of 17% monsters).
Today Mr. Fariña and his son Bernardo produce wines that celebrate Toro’s native grape: Tinta de Toro. You’ll know it elsewhere in Spain as Tempranillo. In tasting Bodegas Fariña’s wine, it’s interesting to see how the flavor of Tinta de Toro can vary dramatically with oak and aging.
Though Bodegas Fariña primarily produces red wines (as do other wineries in Toro), its white wine shouldn’t be overlooked. The Colegiata White is 100% Malvasia. It’s a perfect Miami wine — aromatic and refreshing, ideal for sipping outside on a hot evening. Crisp flavors of green apple and white peach are balanced with mineral notes and lively acidity. It’s a nice match for seafood, salads and soft cheeses.
The Colegiata Rosado is the bridge between Bodegas Fariña’s whites and reds. It’s made from 100% Tinta de Toro. The skins remain in the juice for 12 hours, giving the wine a deep pink color. The Colegiata Rosado is a rosé for red wine drinkers. Packed with strawberry and raspberry flavors, it tastes more like a light red wine. It pairs nicely with seafood, salads and white meats.
The Colegiata Tinta de Toro displays all the characteristics of the Tinta de Toro grape. Like the white and rosé, it is fermented in stainless steel tanks. This fruit-driven wine is bursting with red fruit flavors. Juicy cherries, raspberries and strawberries are enhanced by good acidity and soft tannins. This wine is very versatile and is a nice alternative to Pinot Noir. Pair this with meat dishes, pasta and cheese.
For a more sophisticated red, try the Gran Colegiata Barrica. It’s 100% Tinta de Toro from approximately 30 year old vines and is aged for four months in 50% French oak and 50% American oak. The wine is elegant and well balanced with ripe berry flavors and a hint of violet. Subtle oak flavors give the wine extra complexity. The Gran Colegiata Barrica pairs nicely with grilled chicken, lamb and beef.
The crème de la crème of Bodegas Fariña is the Gran Colegiata Campus. It’s 100% Tinta de Toro handpicked from pre-phylloxera vines that are between 70 and 140 years old. The wine spends 15 months in 50% premium new French oak and 50% premium American oak. The final product is a muscular yet elegant wine with a lush, three dimensional taste that you’ll want to savor for a long time. Intense flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry mix with licorice, spice, vanilla and tobacco. Enjoy this with grilled meats and deeply flavored foods.
Bodegas Fariña wines start around $10 to $15, with some of the barrel-aged reds costing in the $40 to $50 price range. The wines will be available first in Florida, then elsewhere in the country.
For more information visit bodegasfarina.com.