«With Javier Rodríguez, winemaking becomes an adventure.»
The riches of the forgotten D.O. Toro
Anyone who meets Javier Rodríguez on a country road somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Castile-León is sure to mistake him for an adventurer. Yet the bearded man, who usually wears a khaki vest, is in fact one of Spain's most sought-after winemakers. But the first impression is not wrong because the man is really on a treasure hunt: equipped with a map, an earth drill and a head full of ideas, he searches for the most extraordinary vineyards. He knows precisely how physical and chemical properties of a specific soil can affect the grapes. With his expertise, he has even made it to the University of California, where he held a teaching position. Even the world-famous Château Lafite-Rothschild relied on the Spaniard's soil analyses for its new plantings. In his younger years, Javier was a «flying winemaker» throughout Spain.
Today he says with conviction that the D.O. Toro has the best vineyards in the country. A look at the history of the region supports his claim: The area was already known to the Romans, and in the Middle Ages it was the most sought-after wine region in Iberia. King Alfonso IX was an enthusiastic patron of Toro: «I have a bull that gives me wine», he is said to have bragged. The wine was not only in the cellars of royal houses, no, it even traveled with Columbus to America. After the world wars, Toro increasingly fell into oblivion. Only in recent years has the new generation of winemakers succeeded in fully exploiting the potential of this D.O. Thanks to the know-how of winemakers like Javier Rodríguez, the «bull» today again produces wine that Spain can be proud of.