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Issue: August 2012 Fla
Precision Decision


by Meridith May / photos by Erica Bartel
FOR NUMANTHIA, WINEMAKER MANUEL LOUZADA DEPENDS ON HIS METICULOUS NOSE AND PALATE

“I pick on the precise day of harvest,” says Numanthia winemaker Manuel Louzada, whose recent trip to Los Angeles enabled THE TASTING PANEL to get up close and personal. “My equipment is my nose and palate,” but he also ascertains just the right balance in the vineyards. “I go through our 70 vineyards and taste the fruit on the vines every two or three days.”

 
Giulio Bertozzi, Senior Brand Manager, Estates & Wines, Moët Hennessy USA; Diego del Pino, CSW, MHUSA Portfolio Manager for Pacific Wine & Spirits; Numanthia winemaker and Estate Director Manuel Louzada; and Max Bozoghlian, Sommelier at Carlitos Gardel restaurant in Los Angeles.

 
Born in Portugal to a four-generation family of winegrowers, Louzada moved to Argentina in 1999 where he eventually became Director of Enology at Bodegas Chandon, part of Moët Hennessy’s Estates & Wine division. In 2009, he took over the management of the world-famous Numanthia winery in Toro, Spain and has been influential with the wines, from harvest to bottle, since 2008, the year that Moët Hennessy purchased the property.

“In Toro, vineyards tend to react to different vintages,” he states. “It’s almost as if they sense the coming climate and tend to prepare themselves to outside conditions. In warm weather, they will decrease yield and have more vigor in cooler times. I especially have witnessed this ‘reaction’ in the older vines.”

And older vines—with an average of 50 years, and some up to 120 or more—comprise the vineyards that make up Numanthia. “There is so much concentration in these hand-grafted, traditional bush vines,” Louzada points out. “But that concentration is balanced out by elegance. In Numanthia we see muscle like a Toro [bull], with tension. In Termanthia, the bull is pure elegance, standing proudly. The old vines speak through the wines—wisdom doesn’t come from youth.”

Tasting Numanthia


Numanthia wines hail from northwestern Spain’s Toro D.O., in the western extremity of the Castilla y León region. Toro wines are made from a single varietal, Tinta de Toro, a pre-phylloxera missal selection from the Tempranillo family.

Max Bozoghlian, sommelier/owner of Carlitos Gardel in West Hollywood, understands the nature of Numanthia wines. “Termes 2009 is fresh and vibrant, undeniably fruit-driven with an undercarriage of structure and acidity—and a great value at $30.”

Numanthia 2008 ($60) possesses power and precision, born from exceptional ungrafted vineyards between 50 and 100 years old. The wine is open and honest, its elegance defined by black and blue fruit on a creamy, rich, gliding texture. A touch of white pepper and firm tannins ties it all up—drinking this wine is an emotional experience.

The vines for Termanthia 2008 ($200) are older than 120 years. The allocated wine (only 600 sixpacks for the U.S.) exhibits an otherworldly black purple hue. Powerful and graceful, it is a voluminous and weighty red. A complex athlete, it deliberately paces itself with each sip, gradually building in intensity and ebbing with a soft core highlighted by black fruit, creamy dark chocolate and blue flowers. “We delicately de-stem, only the perfect black pearls of fruit are accepted,” explains Louzada. The fruit is crushed by foot (“300-pound men with waders up to their necks”) which further impacts that glorious color.





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