Change of pace

I had a perfect day yesterday. It was Sunday. Okay, it was a Spanish summer Sunday to be more accurate. I just moved here from Salamanca. I decided I just could not do the hour-long bus ride to my early morning classes anymore so I moved into the flat across from campus where my lovely Chinese classmate lives. Duh. I should have done this six months ago.

Anyway, now I am here. I got up and walked across the street to buy the Sunday El País and have an espresso at the cafetería; the coffee there is so good it does not need any sugar and tastes even better because it is only one euro. It was 11 a.m. and already 75 degrees.

I strolled down the street toward the old town. Zamora is a real pueblo of only 66,000 people. The culture of wine is everywhere.

Well-heeled locals lounge around terrace tables with faces flushed from delicate slices of jamón de bellota and fruity tinto de toro wine while children continue to pummel the soccer ball in the grassy area in front of the 13th-century Romanesque church in the town square. The ball eventually sails through the makeshift goal posts crashing into a neatly arranged bottle and glasses spread the waiter had just finished. The reaction is a slight turn of the head in the direction of the horrified kids, but nobody really says anything, and it is never clear whose children they are. I got the feeling this happens with some regularity.

Zamora is wine country. On one side of town is the D.O. Tierra del Vino de Zamora and to the other the D.O. Toro. One of the first wineries in the region was Bodegas Fariña. Fariña took the traditional regional wine production with its high alcohol levels (15%-17%) and brought the alcohol down to a marketable level (13.5%-15), precipitating the current rise of the rich local wine on the world market. Being from Oregon, I was used to the delicate, relatively light Pinot Noir. It took awhile to get used to, but I have come to love Toro wine.

Bodegas Fariña. La Colegiata (named after the Colegiata church in Toro, Spain). Tinta de Toro 2010. 13.5%. Deep violet purple. Demonstrates red fruit in the nose. Delicate vegetal tannins round out the fruity freshness of this unoaked red. Goes with nearly any food. Great for tapas.


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