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Vega Sicilia set themselves an ambitious challenge when they started purchasing vineyards in Toro in 1997. The region was well known for wines of great character, but little finesse. For four years they perfected their style in secret, before finally releasing the 2001 under the name Pintia.

Toro is further along the Duero river from Vega Sicilia, in hotter, wilder territory as one approaches the Portuguese border (after which, the Duero becomes the famous Douro of Port fame). Altitudes are slightly lower than in the Ribera del Duero, making for very hot days, but 500-700m altitudes still mean big day-night temperature swings, so acidity and fruit are preserved.

The grape here is 100 percent Tinta de Toro, a thick-skinned local clone of Tempranillo. The Vega team carefully vinify the wine to extract only the finest tannins and maintain aromatic purity, and age the wines for one year in the highest quality French and American oak barrels. Pintia displays the style and class (elegance, even!) of a Vega Sicilia Group wine, but with the extra-spicy, forceful presence of a Toro. Early critical reaction has been ecstatic, and pricing remains eminently reasonable for a wine of this quality.

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