Haute Wines: Toro, a Matador in All of His Glory

Reminiscent of a matador’s showmanship as he makes passes at a raging bull with panache and precision, wines from Toro embody the same characteristics of a matador as it produces massive, powerful wines intended to subdue any individual with its intense aromas, profound flavors and fleshy mouth feel.  Toro, one of Spain’s most up and coming wine producing areas, is a small region tucked away in the westerly countryside of Castilla y León, a mere hour and half drive north from Madrid, a few miles off the Portuguese border, but more importantly, just slightly west of Ribera del Duero — one of Spain’s famed wine growing regions. A new brigade of local, modern wine makers grow and tame Tinta de Toro, a thick-skinned clone of tempranillo, and other varietals in a naturally harsh environment defined by the region’s high elevation and an arid, continental climate — meaning blazing hot days and decisively cool nights. As the berries ripen intensely, they give way to impassioned, unadulterated, powerful wines with good structure.

No other winery conjures the brash and determined spirit of Toro than Numanthia. Named after the Celtiberian city of Numantia, famous for surviving a twenty-year, Roman siege, the Numanthia winery continues to celebrate this historic city’s tenacity and perseverance through the expression of their vineyards as they continue to flourish through the extreme local climactic conditions more than 100 years later. The ancient vineyards produce three wines made of 100 percent Tinta de ToroTermes, Numanthia and Termanthia. Regardless of which wine is being enjoyed, they are a magnificent expression of the varietal and of the region possessing the authority, focus and precision of a seasoned torero’s sword thrust with the flamboyance and jazz of his traje de luces, a highly adorned, light-reflecting suit.

Haute Picks:

Numanthia, ‘Termes,’ Toro, 2007, $20 – This is Numanthia’s entry level wine. A new born by Numanthian standards, this matador-in-training is produced from thirty year old vines. Full, rich and complex, a spectrum of aromas rush out of the glass unapologetically. Loads of black plums, cherries, currants, black pepper, leather, chocolate and toasty oak aromas of vanilla and cinnamon persist on the palate as mild tannins linger.

Numanthia, ‘Numanthia,’ Toro, 2007, $70 – Numanthia’s flagship wine is produced from old-vine Tinta de Toro ranging from 70 to 100 years old. Like a well-seasoned toreador, Numanthia is focused and laser-like on its intensity as hand-harvested berries from gnarly bushes, haggard and wrinkled by an arduous summer sun and Old Man Winter, result in intensely layered aromatics of red and black cherries, raspberries and currants, along with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and black pepper. Numanthia’s luxurious texture amplifies the flavor of the fruit aromas and shows off its deep, tannic structure and eternally long finish.

Numanthia, ‘Termanthia,’ Toro, 2007, $200 – Made in excellent vintages only, Termanthia is the ultimate expression of the Toro terroir.  With vines producing fruit since the mid-1900s, multitudinous layers of licorice, balsamic and chocolate laced with deep, ripe, dark fruit (figs, plums, currants) and baking spices are all enveloped in a dense, concentrated, dark purple pressing. As provocative and inviting as Termanthia sounds, put her to rest for at least a decade so that all of the flavors and tannins coalesce and she is able to shine in all her glory.

Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit  www.epicuriouschic.com and they can assist in sourcing these wines.