This was a blind vertical tasting of seven D.O. Toros from the 2000 vintage. Other than me, all the five tasters were all in the wine business in various capacities. We all knew what wines were brought but didn’t know which was which. I list the wines and our rankings below so that those who want no further information can have the bottom line right away:1.San Roman 2.Termanthia3.Elias Mora crianza4.Numanthia5.El Albar6.Gago*Gran Elias Mora(corked/unranked)The conditions were ideal. The wine was at a good temperature and decanted about 45 minutes in advance. We each had 7 good quality glasses plus a water glass. We also worked fairly slow and painstakingly, resulting in tasting over several hours. One of the delightful things about the evening was that we made up the rules as we went along, settling on a modified process of elimination whereby we continually narrowed the field of focus. Of course none of the wines were identified until the end. One wine was corked, which we later learned was the Gran Elias Mora - a shame. Of the remaining field, two wines stood out as clearly superior to the others, and these later turned out to be the Termanthia and the San Roman. Gago, despite an 88 or 89 point Parker rating, was eliminated as the most inferior. The El Albar was the cut next - an easy choice. We thought the remaining two wines were roughly of the same class and quite good. One perhaps had started with a bit too much animal on the nose, the other had a bit of a harsh finish - a small burst of acid followed immediately by hard tannins. By the time we were at this point, however the animal scent had blown off the first and we chose it as the slightly superior wine. Our choice was Elias Mora crianza, eliminating the Numanthia. At this stage, however, it remained clear that the Elias Mora crianza was not going to challenge the first two wines that we had initially graduated as obvious finalists. The head-to-head scrutiny and evaluation of those two wines began in earnest. We frankly assumed that one was the Termanthia (and this was later confirmed), but we were far less sure about the identity of the other. The identity of Termanthia was based on the distinctive characteristics mentioned in Parker’s review, which several of us were generally familiar with - very deep and somewhat singular espresso/mocha notes. The other wine, however, had a far broader range of bouquet and flavor (a mocha base, with nice mix of both red and black fruits and toffee in the middle, and spice box hovering on top). We viewed this as an excellent and ultimately superior wine, a view supported by the fact that it kept on improving, with the nose in particular soaring ever higher, whereas the Termanthia seemed to sag very slightly off its peak after a couple of hours. You now know the wine-of-the-night to be the San Roman. Having settled that, we brought on some duck confit. Both the San Roman and Elias Mora crianza paired beautifully with the duck. The Termanthia did not -- a great wine to pair only with itself (which generally is just fine by me). The cost of the San Roman is $35 - a good value in absolute terms and, if compared to the Termanthia at $150-US, a steal. Our third place finisher, Elias Mora crianza, at about $25-30, is also a very good QPR - almost half the price of the fouth place Numanthia, which is apx. $45-50. One disappointment, of course, was the corked special cuvee from Dos Victorias - the Gran Elias Mora - particularly since the basic crianza fared so well.Final comments on the Termanthia: an amazing if somewhat singular wine. I have a couple of bottles of this left and will let it sit for a few years, and then approach much as I would a port.
Very interesting tasting indeed!!! I’ve tried recently Termanthia and I consider that it’s too expensive, especially beeing a not-yet-ready-to-drink-wine.... with too many wood smells and flavours and not well integrated components... Probably needs more time in bottle.... In my opinion San Roman is a far much better option and with a really good QPR.
Very interesting tasting, ¡and the wine selection process!
I agree with you both about Termanthia (and San Roman). I also tasted Termanthia 2000 this week (with Paco), and it seems like to be enjoyig a good ";expresso";: coffe, coffee and coffe. Did I mention coffee?
May be is too soon for this wine... but ¡uff! it’s a lot of money for doing assays.
A very interesting tasting approach. I like to taste (first blind) not too many wines, to observe how they evolve with more air and then try them with food. And you made just this.
I agree with you that San Román and Elias Mora present probably the best QPR in Toro right now.
It’s interesting to see how these new Toro wines integrate its oak and explosive fruit as they evolve in bottle. Have any of you tasted recently, for instance, San Roman and Numanthia from the ’98 vintage?
It is interesting that everyone so far agrees with the relative assessment of San Roman and Termanthia. I think in the US our tasting results were met with some skepticism because of the very high rating that Termanthia received from Parker. I also think Numanthia is also a bit overrated, although I very much applaud the Numanthia project generally for what it has done to give attention to Toro.
I have had the ’98 San Roman recently but not the Numanthia. I recall that the ’98 Numanthia when it was released was a better wine than recent vintages, and it would be interesting to see how it is drinking with these few extra years of bottle age.
What I really want to try, of course, is Alquirez. And it will be interesting to compare the future development of Vega Sicilia’s efforts in Toro with Mariano Garcia’s efforts with San Roman.
Walt, look for the new ";Sitio de ";EL PALO"; BIENVENIDA 2001"; done by the people from Leda (Mariano Garcia’s sons)in Toro.
I have tried it several times, one of them Jancis Robinson was tasting by my side and her words were: ";Dramatic";, me and my friend were looking to each other asking, What did she mean?. Lately we could read her notes ";This bottling from 80 year-old vines is deep, dark purple. Animal.Stinky, but very dramatic. Almost porty. Almost, but it’s rescued at the finish. Dramatico! Long. Quite exacting. Dry finish. Made in the same way as Leda";
So she liked it!
Great information. These are the same winemakers that make Paixar, which I have written about recently.