The region of Castilla y Léon in northern Spain has borne witness to countless seismic events since Bodega Numanthia’s vines first broke ground in the mid-19th Century. Revolutions, counter-revolutions, coups and civil wars have all left their mark on this area north-west of Madrid, yet throughout them all these vineyards – perpetually treasured and cared for by local farmers – have relentlessly, year upon year, produced Tinta de Toro fruit (Tempranillo) of unquestionable quality. These represent some of the oldest vines in the world and clutches still thrive on Bodega Numanthia’s 83ha estate where almost half the vineyards are comfortably over 70 years old.
Bodega Numanthia’s modern-day rebirth occurred in the late 1990s when a pair of winemaking brothers from Rioja happened across these hardy vineyards in their search for wines to bolster those of their home region. Astonished by their discovery, they instead set out to unleash the potential of this region, committing to studying the terroir and modifying traditional winemaking practices to accommodate what the land dictated and to develop sustainably, the result being a new wave of Toro wines unlike any other.
The climate here is one to be endured rather than enjoyed, with brutal winters opposite oppressive summer heat (or ‘nine months of winter, three months of hell’ as one popular mantra goes). Rain is at a premium, but thanks to the low-density planting and spaces between each set of roots, these dry-farmed vines are able to gather just enough water to flourish, although they have to work hard for it.
The reward is staggeringly low yields of highly concentrated berries which – due to the stark temperature shift between super-heated days and crisp nights – offer only an extremely narrow window of perfect maturity and require harvesting within two days (another example of the land setting the beat).
Ultimately, this marriage of super-precise viticulture and back-breaking toil is manifested in an exclusive portfolio of just three wines: Termes, Numanthia and Termanthia. Termes is a surprising interpretation of Toro, a remarkable fruit-forward wine with striking freshness to delight the modern palate; Numanthia is the Estate’s iconic signature, made from over 100 different plots from ungrafted centenarian vines; finally, the rare-release Termanthia, the rarest expression of Bodega Numanthia, made from a select few of the Estate’s finest parcels and oldest centenarian vines.
Each bear the mark of contemporary, premium Toro, but more importantly the soul of both the estate and this captivating if contrary part of Spain: ‘Our vineyards have resisted the extreme climate conditions in Toro for years, including the invasion of phylloxera,’ says Estate Director, Lucas Löwi.
‘These vineyards symbolise the unique Bodega Numanthia heritage of very old vines dating back over one hundred years. With the structural power and elegance of terroir that is found in our wines, we hope to preserve these ancient vines and their expression.’