(from a single vineyard rich in marbly rocks and sand; planted with ungrafted vines in the second half of the 19th century) Saturated bright medium ruby. Superripe yet vibrant aromas of black raspberry, berry liqueur and licorice. Like an essence of berries in the mouth: huge, sappy and superconcentrated, with exotic, palate-saturating fruit and strong but perfectly integrated acids. Finishes with extremely ripe, harmonious tannins and mouthstaining length. The yield here was a half ton per acre, according to the U.S. importer, and the wine was aged in 200% new oak, having received a second pass in all Darnajou barrels.
Robert Parker 88
The 2000 Termanthia comes from a â€œtraditionalâ€ vintage, a late bud burst and a cooler than average summer. The nose is soft and rounded with sous-bois and cigar box aromas as well as faint hints of Turkish delight and coconut. The palate is ripe and generous with degraded toffee and undergrowth notes. It builds nicely in the mouth to a spicy, white pepper-tinged finish that seems fully mature, although the persistency remains impressive. Drink now-2015. The following year, frosts on April 22 and 23 affected 80% of the bud burst and necessitated a green harvest to get rid of secondary buds. Tell me, did you automatically skip directly here before perusing the rest of this report? Naughty you. But it would not surprise me, since it was this address that brought Toro global attention, and so a visit to Numanthia Termes was a priority. I only need adumbrate the history of the estate. Named after an ancient Spanish city said to have resisted Roman invasion for 20 years, Numanthia was founded by the Eguren family in 1998 in Valdefinjas. Its wines enjoyed overnight critical acclaim, including in this very publication, and it was the catalyst for other winemakers to exploit Toro and recreate their success. The source of quality was derived from an exceptional parcel that included 120-year-old un-grafted vines that had resisted phylloxera with the resilience of those ancient Spanish soldiers. A new winery was constructed in 2007, but in February 2008 it was announced that the estate had been sold to LVMH. Winemaker Marcos Eguren agreed to stay on for two more vintages before he moved on to establish his own winery close by (see â€œTeso la Monjaâ€). Taking the winemaking reins, Manuel Lazueda has overseen recent vintages, and he kindly not only showed recent releases from Numanthia, but conducted a complete vertical of Termanthia from the maiden vintage. Naturally, there has been speculation how I would find these wines, which come cloaked in 200% new oak. You would presume they are an anathema to what I believe constitutes a great wine. You have to trust me when I say that I tasted without prejudice and without being influenced by previous scores or remarks. There is no question that Lazueda is a talented, perspicacious and passionate winemaker and is overseeing what LVMH themselves describe as a â€œluxury brand,â€ according to their website, one said to be purchased for a cool $25 million. That ineluctably creates expectation from every quarter ” consumers, investors, collectors, shareholders and yes, critics. I admired both vintages of Numanthia ” a statement that might surprise those who incorrectly assume that my so-called â€œclassicalâ€ palate does not appreciate modern styles of winemaking. Furthermore, I believe that it offers great value for money considering the cache of the name. Now for a vertical of Termanthia from the debut vintage, and perhaps here we begin courting controversy. In a nutshell, tasting through every vintage from the maiden 2000, I was rather underwhelmed by the first few vintages but found more to admire in later releases. I asked Lazueda what changes he felt there have been over the years. He replied that since 2004, though tannins have increased, they have become smoother, and in a vintage such as 2009, he waited one or two more days to obtain sweeter tannins. Of course, we had a long discussion on the oak regime of 200% new Taransaud oak. When pressed, he told me that they have trialed batches at 100% new oak, but that for now they will continue the present modus operandi. He proposed that despite the level of new oak, that it does not impinge upon the personality of the wine. We will have to agree to disagree on that point. When I enquired why they used particular cooperages, he explained what each imparted, at which point I highlighted the contradiction that the oak did not alter the character of Termanthia. It does. It has to. Given that the subject is a precious parcel of ancient Tinto de Toro vines, would terroir be expressed with greater clarity with less dependence upon new oak? Or should we consider 200% new oak to be an intrinsic part of its terroir? Your answer to those questions will dictate your appreciation of Termanthia, at least from a philosophical standpoint. Consider Pablo Alvarez’s comments as to the reason why he does not mature Pintia for over 12 months. However, what I would say is that I admired these wines far more that I suspect many would predict. Doubtless those whose interest does not extend beyond scores will interpret my scores as an unforgivable attack on one of Toro’s icons, a criminal downgrading. The truth is, I consider Termanthia to be one of the region’s finest wines, even if my criteria for what constitutes a â€œperfectâ€ wine might be more stringent than others. I consider it to be one of the top two or three Toro wines alongside Alabaster from Teso la Monja, Pintia and the San Roman from Bodegas Maurodos. However, perhaps with reconsideration of the oak regi, it could well become the greatest, but that is their decision to make and not mine. I merely express an opinion, but one that I feel is not mine alone. Importer: LVMH; www.lvmh.com