The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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{ shop talk: spain } IT WAS A LAST MINUTE MEETING, BUT AN OPPORTUNITY I could not miss: tasting with Numanthia's Winemaker and Estate Manager, Manuel Louzada, who happened to be in Washington, D.C. in mid-October. Louzada combines the Old and the New in every wine he makes, start - ing with old vines. Seriously old vines. "Our vines just start producing well at 30 years old, the point at which most people are pulling their vines out to replant," Louzada explains. These 30-year-old vines go into his "young vines" wine, Termes, while older vines, from about 60- to 100-years-old, go into the namesake, Numanthia. All of the vines are ungrafted Tinto de Toro, a type of Tempranillo that has evolved with thicker skins and tighter bunches due to Toro's unrelentingly hot weather and scarce rainfall. Combined with sandy, rocky soils that prevent pests like phylloxera from taking hold, and you get some of the oldest, healthiest, ungrafted vines in the world. The jewel of the Numanthia estate is a single vineyard of Tinta de Toro that dates back to the 1870s. Louzada reserves this vineyard for the produc - tion of Termanthia, Numanthia's top label. The grapes used for Termanthia are so concentrated, that extreme care must be taken to avoid over-extraction. There are 35 winery employees that hand- destem each cluster, an old method that works well for this purpose. From there, Louzada adds a bit of new technology, a Vistalys sorter that uses computer imaging to select the perfect grapes. However, Louzada returns to the old ways for crushing, which is accomplished by heavy-set men in torso-high waders. "Nothing tops the human foot for crushing the grapes without extracting too much tannin from the pips and skins. We couldn't make such a refined wine if we did it any differently." Numanthia 2010 Termanthia (SRP $199 per bottle), although it is packed with bold, New World–style fruitiness and vanilla oak, has Old World elegance, with a pleasing backbone of rocky minerality. It is a wine that needs time in a decanter to bring out its more nuanced flavors of anise, tobacco leaf, and pie spices. Numanthia 2010 Numanthia (SRP $45) is perhaps more representative of the house style, with more a more muted mingling of cassis fruit with gentle tannin, subdued oak, and a clean, earthy finish. Numanthia 2011 Termes ($29) is all about the fresh fruit of the Tinto de Toro grape. It is juicy and delicious to drink in its youth, but serious enough to pair with the best prime steak. Tasting with the Winemaker DAVID DENTON, CWE, GETS UP CLOSE WITH NUMANTHIA IN D.C. PHOTO: DAVID DENTON PHOTO: DAVID DENTON Manuel Louzada, Winemaker and Estate Manager for Numanthia. { }  19

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