The Vines and Wines of Numanthia

Numanthia wines
Numanthia wines

by Barnaby Hughes

Estates & Wines, the Moët Hennessy Wine Division, produces vino around the world. Among its vast inventory is our current wine of the week, Cloudy Bay Vineyards 2009 Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, which stems from New Zealand. I recently got to taste the three wines produced by Bodega Numanthia from Toro, Spain, another of the division’s holdings.

Following a Champagne reception, Numanthia’s winemaker Manuel Louzada introduced his wines at STK restaurant in West Hollywood where they were paired with new executive chef David Gussin’s rich, hearty cuisine. All are made from organically-grown Tinta de Toro grapes – part of the Tempranillo family. We began with Louzada’s 2009 Termes, made from Numanthia’s youngest vines, which are 30-50 years old. Contrary to the usual practice of pairing white wines with fish, it was served with a crisply-grilled red snapper. We were so impressed, expect to see the Termes on our upcoming list of Top 10 Seafood Wines.

Next, we enjoyed his flagship 2008 Numanthia, made from century-old vines, paired with rosemary and fennel marinated pork tenderloin, braised bacon, lentils and bagna cauda. Finally, Louzada introduced the 2006 Termanthia, made from the estate’s oldest vines. Chef Gussin’s tender beef short rib with carrot purée and red wine reduction proved to be an apt pairing with this robust and complex wine.

The ancient vineyards of Bodega Numanthia have a rather desolate appearance. Many of the thick, gnarled vines are 120-140 years old, having survived the spread of phylloxera to the region. They also stand far apart from one another in rather rocky soil. Numanthia furnishes an excellent example of why Spain actually produces less wine than Italy and France despite having more vineyard acreage. Working with such old vines might be incredibly labor intensive, but the results are worth the effort.

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