For 30 years, from 1968 to 1998, Mariano García made the brilliant and legendary wines at Vega Sicilia, in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region. Around 1978, he began his own side project, which his employers at Vega Sicilia frowned upon once they finally learned of it. Garcia decided to give up his day job in 1998 to focus on his own winery, dubbed Bodegas Mauro. Located in the Duero River valley at Tudela, a few miles to the east of the city of Valladolid, Mauro doesn’t qualify for the Ribera del Duero DO status, as it lies just outside of that appellation’s geographic boundaries, and therefore carries the broader Castilla y Leon designation. Mauro’s wines are heavily Tempranillo-based and earning high ratings for those who put stock in such numbers.
The proof is in the bottles, however, and last week, Kim and I got the opportunity to taste through a few vintages of three tiers of their wines and were most impressed. The wines were presented by their distributor in Southeastern Michigan, A.H.D. Vintners, and the tasting was held at our favorite local Nu-Asian restaurant, Mon Jin Lau. On hand to talk about the wines and the producer was Matthew Roberts, Mauro’s Export Manager.
Our friend Michelle DeHays from A.H.D. got us started with a glass of a nice Albariño that we’ve enjoyed in the past and that sold well for me in a previous life in retail wine sales.
2007 Lagar de Cervera Albariño, $18.99: Pale to medium straw color, with a good dose of mineral over white peach and green apple flavors; medium bodied and more, with good cut and length. The mineral sets the tone here, and nicely so. Find this wine
The five reds were served with Mon Jin Lau’s Bento Box, described as “a single portion take-out or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one of more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.” The presentation was lovely and the food delicious. Best of all, the wines all paired very well with the six small portions, which were as follows: Beef Gyoza (Tomato, Asian Pesto), Char Siu (Cantonese Roast Pork), Mandarin Crispy Duck (Snow Peapods), Braised Five Spice Lamb Shank w/Three Mushroom Compote (Shitake, Straw, Royal Trumpet), Sesame Seared Tuna (Sunomono Cucumber, Yuzu Drizzle), French Goat Cheese & Black Seedless Grapes.
All five wines are deeply, darkly colored, and similar in character, graduating up in quality through the three tiers.
2005 Bodegas Mauro Tinto, $52,99: Judicious oak over dense, dark currants, berries and cherries on the nose that take on a somewhat toasty character in the mouth, with earthy undertones; full bodied, yet sleek, elegant and refined and structured for many years in the cellar. Try again on its 10th birthday, or, if you can’t wait, give it an hour in a decanter before drinking. Find this wine
2004 Bodegas Mauro Tinto, $48.99: This is a little more restrained version of the ’05; it’s tight on the nose and shows the same basic black currant and berry profile, but it’s a little less toasty and a little less intense. Still, it should age well for several years, and while I heard some comments that this was the weak selection of the bunch, I’m not buying that, it simply doesn’t have quite the depth and intensity of the others, and that’s not always a bad thing. Find this wine
2003 Bodegas Mauro Vendimia Seleccionada, $104.99: Deep, dark, dense and stylish, with toasty oak and a note of coffee in good proportion to the dark currant and berry flavors and aromas; some maple syrup emerges with air. Full bodied and structured for many years in the cellar, with just enough acidity to keep things moving along nicely. Find this wine
1997 Bodegas Mauro Vendimia Seleccionada, $104.99: Soft leather over black fruit on the nose, gaining some toast and coffee on the palate; full bodied and sleek, with a lovely aged structure and still not at its peak, so there’s no hurry to have to open this one now. Try it again in 3-5 years and see where it’s at. Find this wine
2004 Bodegas Mauro Terreus, $162.49: This one shows the most obvious oak, but not excessively so; it offers some subtle toast and coffee over dense dark currant, berry and cherry. Rich and intense, full bodied, with excellent structure for many years in the cellar, so try again in 10-15 years. Find this wine
Many thanks to Chip and Richard Delsener of A.H.D. Vintners for inviting us to this very special tasting of the wines of Bodegas Mauro. Thanks also to Matthew Roberts of Bodegas Mauro for his informative talk and to Marshall Chin of Mon Jin Lau for continuing to serve some of the best food of any kind in the Metro Detroit area.
Reporting from Day-twah,