Spain's Bodega Numanthia looks to widen distribution across specialist UK wine trade

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Premium Spanish wine producer, Bodega Numanthia, is looking to widen its distribution of Toro region wines across the UK specialist wine trade.


Bodega Numanthia hopes to gain the same reputation for its wines in the UK that it enjoys in the US where its wines sell out on allocation thanks to high 90s ratings for its wines from Robert Parker. Its UK profile by comparison remains small.


But Manuel Louzada, head winemaker and estate director at Bodega Numanthia, told Harpers Wine & Spirit that he believes its wines are ideal for specialist retailers and top end restaurants looking to offer something unique from Toro, one of the emerging wine regions of Spain.


"I think there is room for high end wines like ours in these specialist outlets. The US is our number one market, but we see the UK as one of our key export areas along with Germany, the Nordic states, Asia, Japan and Hong Kong," he said.


"But this is a long term project and we need the trade and customers to taste and understand our wines. To make that connection. My challenge is to be very consistent with the quality of the wines."


Bodega Numanthia first started making wine in 1998 when it was owned by the Eguren family with the goal of producing the best wine from the Toro wine region. With many of its 49 hectares using vines going back 130 years or more it is well placed to produce the super premium wines that work so well in the key export markets.


It found international acclaim in 2007, particularly in the US, when its Termanthia 2004 vintage was awarded 100 points and Numanthia 2004 98 points by Robert Parker.


It also coincided at a time when the Eguren family was looking to sell up and Bodegas Numanthia was acquired by LVMH in 2008 where it now sits as part of its Estates and Wines portfolio alongside the Chandon wineries in the US, Argentina, Australia and Brazil, Cloudy Bay, New Zealand, and Cape Mentelle, Australia.


Its UK distribution is handled by Moet Hennessy UK, which is looking after both its Numanthia brand, which retails with a RRP of £45, and Termanthia, RRP of £120. But overall production levels of both wines are small at around 4,000 to 6,000 bottles for Termanthia and 40,000 to 60,000 for Numanthia. Its third wine, Termes, which is not yet available in the UK, produces up to 80,000 bottles.


Louzada, who joined Bodega Numanthia for the 2008 harvest, said: "We want to make some of the most prestigious wines in the world." He is particularly confident about the 2010 vintage. "2008 was an outstanding vintage, but I think 2010 will be a historical vintage. It has absolutely wonderful potential to make a long ageing wine. But it is like looking after a baby, you have to take care every step of the way."


The challenge, he said, as a winemaker in Toro is to be able to use the strength of the fruit and tannins in the grapes to then develop elegance and balance through picking at the right time and then allowing the wines to sit in barrel, sometimes for as long as six months, after the initial alcoholic fermentation before doing the malolactic fermentation.


"Part of the rebirth of the wines being made in Spain is winemakers being true to the terroir, but also looking far more at the balance, concentration and elegance of the wines. That has been key to the changes taking place in Spain," he said.


Louzada is one of a rare breed of non-Spanish winemakers working in Spain. He is a fourth generation of winemakers from his family winery in Portugal, but has gone on to produce Porto wines for Rozes LDA and spent 10 years in Argentina as head winemaker at Bodegas Chandon, producing Terrazas de los Andes and Cheval des Andes wines.


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