2016 Prima Toro
Wine runs through Mariano García’s blood. Born in the vineyard of Spain’s legendary Vega Sicilia winery, he began life as a vine pruner alongside his mother. He later became Vega Sicilia’s winemaker with a career spanning over 30 years at Spain’s most famous winery. And then this wine, Prima for short, ended it.
Like a kingdom out of a fairy tale, Vega Sicilia exists in its own world. During the Napoleonic Wars Vega Sicilia’s wine was only given as gift to kings and queens to smooth diplomatic relations. If Chateau Margaux couldn’t be found, Nixon drank the 1968. Prince Charles and Princess Diana reveled in the 1975 for their wedding celebration. The current mythical reputation for Vega Sicilia’s quality and rarity rests on Mariano García’s 30 years laboring as its winemaker.
One day in the early 1960s, the winery staff thought they would play a trick on García.
They blind-tasted him on twenty wines. García correctly guessed that two of the wines were duplicates. He was immediately drafted to work on the wines. By 1968 he was the winemaker and created one of Vega Sicilia’s greatest wines – the 1968 Unico.
But by 1998 things had changed at Vega Sicilia and also with García. García had successfully guided the old bodega into the modern age. But now he wanted to make his own wines and establish a better life for his sons at a place called San Roman Bodegas Y Vinedos. Neither side will say what happened, but in 1998 García stormed out of Vega Sicilia. After half a century, he cast off his birthplace and his position as the greatest winemaker in Spain to pursue a dream of making his own wine.
Though García’s reign at Vega Sicilia ended with fireworks, he has used all his considerable winemaking powers to craft great wine at San Roman Bodegas Y Vinedos, for a fraction of Vega Sicilia’s cost.
Prima, as García’s new wine is known, I find utterly compelling and refreshing to drink. The bouquet is a seductive mélange of black cherry liquor, violets and chocolate. The palate is beautifully balanced between Tempranillo notes of roasted chestnuts, smooth integrated tannins from the French oak barrel treatment and tangy minerality from the soils of Toro in Western Spain.
Unlike Vega Sicilia’s Unico, this wine is not meant for kings and queens. It is meant to celebrate the passion and rejuvenation of one of Spain’s great winemakers. Establishing a heritage that is truly unique, García’s Prima Toro is the perfect wine to enjoy with friends and family, glass after savory glass.
“The 2016 Toro “Prima” from Bodegas San Roman is a blend of eighty-five percent tempranillo and fifteen percent garnacha. The wine is raised for one year in used, French and American oak casks and comes in at 14.5 percent octane in this vintage. The bouquet is deep and very promising, offering up scents of cassis, black raspberries, a bit of saddle leather, spit-roasted meats, a touch of anise and a fine base of dark soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, fullbodied and beautifully soil-driven in personality, with a fine core of fruit, suave, moderate tannins and outstanding length and grip on the complex and very well balanced finish. This is first class Toro and a bargain, as here in the states, it sells for $25! This does not show its octane at all and is very precise on the backend, with impeccable balance and no signs of heat. 2019- 2040.” – View from the Cellar