The Toro region of Spain has been receiving more and more recognition lately and for very good reason: it has a long history of wine production but it’s only been in the past 15 years that serious winemakers have staked out a claim in the northwest of Spain.
The main grape of the Toro DOC is Tinta de Toro, a mutation of Tempranillo, not exactly a Tempranillo clone but having a common ancestor. Tempranillo is most often associated with Rioja, if associated with any Spanish wine at all. The Toro region has taken Tempranillo and given it it’s own unique profile under the name of Tinta de Toro.
I met with the winemaker of Numanthia, Manuel Louzada over lunch in Mayfair one afternoon recently and he shared his philosophy and wines with me.
Manuel strives to make a modern Spanish wine – no over oaked, dusty wines; he wants to make wines that are the exact opposite of traditional Rioja and a direct expressions of the extreme conditions of the Toro region. The temperature can range from 45 degrees in the summer to -12 in the winter, these are some hardy vines! Manuel believes that winemakers should get “…what they want from the grapes, not what they get…” To that end, practices precise extraction, using pneumatice pigeage (pumping over of the must) to get just the right amount of colour and tannins in his wines. The result, wines with real texture but no over-extraction.
Numathia must be doing something right as the wines have been winning very high points from Robert Parker, receiving 98 points one year.
The Numanthia 2007 comes from vines that are 50-100 years old and is an evocative complex wine with a ripe black fruit nose, full and elegant but well balanced on the palate. A neat tightrope walk of concentration and balance, the wine had character and nerve with a line of tension running throughout it.
The wine finished with chocolate notes lingering on the palate. A very lively wine; despite it being quite concentrated, it never lost it’s fresh qualities, the fruit not being over ripe but very flavourful nonetheless and the tannins velvety smooth. A robust wine, it is still very young and although you can drink it now, it would benefit from another 5 to 10 years cellaring.
The Numanthia 2007 is available in the UK from Majestic and retails for £35. A unique wine and worthy of a special meal.