Over the past decade, Spain’s Toro region has emerged to rival Rioja and Ribera del Duero as one of the most exciting areas of red wine production in the country. There are now forty wineries in Toro, but one stands above the rest: Bodega Numanthia.
While the modern estate is relatively new (the first vintage was 1998), Numanthia is a place of historical significance: It was the site where, nearly 2,000 years ago, Spaniards resisted a siege by the Roman legions for nearly a century. The property’s sandy soil also helped the Tinta de Toro vines resist the phylloxera epidemic that ravaged Europe. Those vines—gnarly, head-trained, ranging from thirty to well over one hundred years old—are the key to Numanthia’s success today.
Manuel Louzada, the estate’s winemaker and director, passed through Palm Beach recently to show off his latest releases. A native of Portugal, Louzada spent a decade in Argentina before coming to Spain in 2009. He oversees the production of Termes, the entry-level wine, Numanthia itself, and the rare, low-production Termanthia. Tasted together, the three wines have a distinct family resemblance. They are bright and fresh, with prominent acidity that makes them a pleasure to drink.
Termes 2009 ($25) is made from 30-50 year old vines that have more seniority than most “old vine” Zinfandel in California. The wine is poised and bright, with supple tannins and resonant flavors of red plums; soft and ripe, it is a good match with dishes ranging from salmon and tuna through red meats. The nose of the 2008 Numanthia ($60) is seductive, with aromas of cedar and blackberry wafting up from the glass. In the mouth, it is richly concentrated yet elegant, with intense black fruit flavors and distinctive herbal notes that carry over onto the long finish.
The jewel in the crown is Termanthia 2008 ($180), made from low-yielding vines planted between 1870 and 1890. It is remarkably fresh for such a large-scaled wine, displaying complex flavors of cassis, anise and fresh herbs, and is easily capable of aging gracefully for several decades.