Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wine of the Moment: Numanthia Termes

Spanish wines have gotten a pretty good amount of press the past few years. There are those, like Alice Feiring, who push the supremely traditional wines of the Rioja made by Lopez-Heredia -- and very few others. And there are those like Robert Parker (or, more truthfully put, his ethically questionable employee, Jay Miller) who trumpet highly modern, highly oaked wines from the Priorat, Ribera del Duero, and Toro.

Spanish wines can be hit or miss. You definitely get a lot of value in them -- particularly the whites, such as Albarino and Verdeho. But often the reds shoot too high and miss, like a cheap California Cabernet. One of the most standout wines of Spain's new school, missing all the pratfalls of the heavily oaked, high extraction crowd is the Numanthia Termes. Current release is 2008, and it's a steal at $24 or so. You can find it at Spec's quite readily and, also most of the time, at Central Market in the Houston area. It's a wine that gives a bit of a nod to Russian River Valley Zinfandel: pretty, spicy fruit flavors with ramped up acidity and noticeable tannic structure. It will satisfy those who crave nice fruit and the drying sensation you get from the young Cabernets that are so popular yet so heavy for Houston's brutal summer.

Termes is aged in once-used oak barrels, meaning there is less toast and vanilla for the wood to impart on the wine. The result is a surprisingly fresh, vibrant red that stands up well to the grilled red meat and barbecue that comes across summertime tables. Have at it.