Track season has passed here in Saratoga Springs. Small town life has returned. Don’t get me wrong; the booze still flows on Caroline Street, just with a more personal, homey vibe. More familiar faces in the room. Restaurants are once again approachable. Reservations for times other than 4:30 and 10:00 can be had, and in some spots, prices leveled back out.
The economic batteries of our local spots are hopefully charged for passage through the off season. It also means the return of Tuesday night wine deals at Maestro’s—last year it was half-priced on any bottle on the list! That included the bottle I’m reviewing tonight.
[After a 3-hour decant, we line Termes and Termanthia up for the initial tasting]
The last time Carey and I dined at Maestro’s, I was chatting with the chef/owner John LaPosta about the glory of their Tuesday night vino price slash. Jokingly, I said that the deal brings Termanthia within a hundred dollars of my typical budget.
Termanthia. The treasure of Toro—one of Spain’s most renowned and celebrated wine regions. I rarely get a chance to drink wines from Toro. They are usually expensive and not as accessible as wines from neighboring regions such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
Bodegas Numanthia, the producer of Termanthia, offers 3 wines, all 100% Tempranillo. The entry bottle, Termes, costs about $30 and after a combined 17 ratings from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Stephen Tanzer, and Wine & Spirits since 1999, has never had a grade moved south of the 90-point mark—almost unheard of at that price point.
Numanthia Numanthia, the mid-tier bottling, has earned sacred status in some minds. I will never forget when I asked an old vino veteran at a favorite local store what one bottle he would take if given the choice regardless of price. He didn’t even need to think. He led me straight past the collector’s section and stopped at the Spanish rack. Meet Numanthia. $70. The 2004 vintage earned a 98 from Robert Parker.
That brings us to Termanthia. The flagship of Spain, a wine I have dreamed of one day experiencing—and it just so happened to be on Maestro’s wine list for a mere $250. So when my dream wine—encased in 5 pounds of the thickest wine bottle I’ve ever seen—was plunked down on our little table, I assumed I was being teased. But no… it was a gift. How does one respond to that? All John asked in return was to let him know what I thought. That was probably 3 months ago.
Why so long? Well, I needed to find a special night—and despite a selfish urge to drink it alone, I was almost as excited to see the enjoyment on the faces of others as I was to feel it on my own. But not too many people. Carey and I joined my parents in Vermont. I brought the Termanthia, along with the newly released Termes. They provided rosemary and goat cheese stuffed leg of lamb.
I have had the good fortune of tasting Termes on a couple of occasions—the first of which I documented in a post. It has been, and continues to be, a special wine. Energetic and diversely layered and varied from year to year; my tasting notes read a bit unbalanced. Smoked jerky and beef blood reads the 2006—floral, bright and sweetly perfumed only 2 years later.
Deep berry and plum, dry spices and baked goods. Easy tannins, great acidity and a lingering flavor of whipped butter.
Wet tobacco and menthol. Tannins are certainly not crushing (as I was preparing for with this young wine). Bright mixed black and red fruit with dominant cranberry, cherry and strawberry. Soft vanilla on the back end.
I am going to go out on a limb and most likely be the first to say that this in not an excessive wine—big, yes, but not brutish or over the top. In fact, it’s not even a bomb—nor does it require a decade of waiting for tannin management. Termanthia is far more poised than I anticipated, even showing spots of subtlety and delicacy amidst the bold genius.
Dauntlessly long legged. Texture is waxed and smooth. Acidity crisp. Cedar, smoke and cocoa powder aplenty. A remarkable experience. Although the price is not versatile, the wine can be enjoyed with food, or not, morning or night!
If you’re in town, stop by Maestro’s and say hello. I’d love to say pick up a bottle of Termanthia, but that is a bit presumptuous, so do what I will be doing from now on and just enjoy peering at it on the menu—and go with the Ridge, Santa Cruz Mountains for about $210 less!