El Albar (de J. & F. Lurton) 2005, Toro (España)
The bull, by definition is NON-CASTRATED adult male of the species Bos Taurus. Toro is the spanish namesake of this beast, and one shared with a blooming wine D.O. (Denominación de Origen/Designation of Origin) that fully lives up to the name. This wine is ALL BALLS, 100% Tinto de Toro. A fine example of the heavy influence that terroir/terrain soil can have over a grape varietal. In Rioja and other parts of Spain, where this exact same grape is mostly known as Tempranillo, and instead produces very palatable reds with soft tannins and lovely mineral character (which rank amongst Spain's very best). When I say this is all balls, I do not imply that it lacks balance, structure or otherwise class. No fucking way, José! This is a fine and very cellar-worthy bottling, just as most good Toro wines are in my opinion. As of the last 15 years, this has become quite the exportable grape as well : Australia, USA, Chile and other wine-producing countries have cultivated and successfully produced wine with it, varying in quality and character.
The wine is bright, with a dark sanguine complexity, on the nose is quite rich, it fully expresses it's origin with notes of ripe plum, star anise and some vanilla. In mouth, it reassures the Tempranillo/Tinta de Toro stamp with pleasant tart cherry and medium tannins, highlighted by a very velvet-like and lengthy finish. This would pair up divinely with a diversity of roasted meats, steak & frites and even better, with a serving of chistorras and some olives. At 30 USD, I consider this is a solid choice. This fantastic find was one selected by my wife, who tends to rely heavily on Spain for her choices. Wise girl.
Earlier this week, we visited Sauce (On The Square) in downtown McKinney for lunch, a quaint little restaurant with an affordable and delightful array of Italo-American selections. We each had a salad and shared (they have family-sized choices, meant for sharing) a tasty fettuccine with veal, crimini mushrooms, spinach, onion and parmigiano-reggiano. To accompany it, we had a bottle of AgroArgento 2005 "Carrivali" Nero D'Avola (Italy) red. Nero D'Avola (literally black of Avola) is the quintessentially indigenous red varietal of Sicily, and as such, it is regarded as a great accompaniment to Sicilian-style dishes in general. The wine was a pleasant, fruit-forward with medium structure. Nice, dry, very truffleish and with a slightly bitter finish, which is trademark in Italian reds in general. Trivia : This grape is also commonly known as Negroamaro, meaning black bitter. Overall, a great spot with a solid menu, a fantastic wine list (arranged by a fellow Somm who managed to keep all of the great choices under 50 USD!) and great service.