In most European countries all quality wine-producing regions fall within the regimen of the DOC seal (Controlled Destination of Origin) or IPR (Indication of Regulated Provenance). This isn’t the case in Spain where through cause, inevitability or opportunity there are at times areas of cultivated rural land (terroirs) that are the exception and have escaped coming under any bureaucratic. Umbrella. Such is the case with the vineyards of the superb Mauro wines

By: Luís Antunes

The Bodegas Mauro were created in 1980 by Mariano García. Mariano had the ­happiness of being born right in Finca Vega Sicília, Spain’s most landmark wine, a vineyard founded in 1864 in response to the phylloxera infestation which decimated French vineyards. Both father (Mauro García), grandfather and even great-grandfather had worked on this ­vineyard since the start of the XXth century.  The young Mariano was destined for a career in administration when his keen nose detected an error in the preparation of a blind tasting ­session: the same wine had been served twice.  The person overseeing wine-making at the time, Jesús Anadón, invested in Mariano and encouraged him to study wine-making. At the end of his course he joined the wineries team where he became the technical director between 1968-1998.

Meanwhile, in 1978, he purchased a small parcel of wine-producing land in Tudela de Duero outside the Dos, with old Tempranillo vines ready to be dug out. In 1980 he founded his own wineries and called it Mauro in tribute to his father.  From 1998 he concentrated purely on his family projects on which he works to this day with his sons Alberto and Eduardo.

In 1985 he transferred the wineries to an enormous XVIIth century mansion in Calle Mayor, Tudela del Duero, a small town with old wine-producing traditions.  In 1982 he had ­created the label Ribeira del Duero but the wines from the Bodegas Mauro Wineries were not included within this group and so became “table wines” (a term of lower quality) by 1999. At this time they passed to “Vinos de la Tierra Castilla y León.” None of this worried Mariano, used to seeing his wines marked according to their intrinsic quality instead of waiting for seals of approval from regulatory bodies.  After all, one only has to take stock – Vega Sicília’s worldwide reputation itself was built without any DO over more than 100 years, between 1864 and 1982.

Mauro wine became a badly-kept secret through word-of-mouth from its fans and on the wine lists of the best restaurants, its production gradually grew from 2000 bottles to begin with, investing the proceeds every year in land ­purchases and vineyards as well as expanding production capacity.  Today the family projects around the Duero valley employ 37 full-time (plus seasonal workers), annually producing 650,000 bottles of 8 wines with a total turnover of over 10 million euros.

The story doesn’t stop in Tudela, despite its 80 hectares of organic wine-production with ­exports to over 60 countries. Its wines are Mauro, Mauro VS (Vendimia Seleccionada) and the top-of-the-range Mauro Terreus, produced from the quality paraje vine from Cueva Baja.  Since 2013, and on Eduardo’s initiative, they have been producing the only white wine in the family of wines, the Mauro Godello, with grapes from Villafranca del Bierzo and its 700m altitude vines.

In 1999 Mariano founded the Bodegas Aalto in D.O. With Javier Zaccagnini. Ribera del Duero. In 1995, the Garcías purchased 9 hectares of vines at San Román, D.O. Toro, a denomination which had dwindled gradually, but was now bouncing back with good quality wines. Today the Bodegas San Román boast more than 120 hectares of vines producing 300,000 bottles a year, including the Prima wines (one year maturing), San Román (24-36 months) and the top-of-the-range Cartago Paraje de Pozo, made with Toro red wine (the local Tempranillo variety) from old vines (45 years) and which have a long maturation in the barrel and later on in the bottle.

In 2014 father and sons decided to start a new project, the Bodegas Garmón (of García Montaña), the names of the sons Alberto and Eduardo). The idea was to create an exclusive wine, the production of which would not exceed 80,000 bottles a year, using ancestral viticulture, on smallholding vineyards with old and not very robust vines, native clones, located on the higher, colder continental slopes of the Ribera del Duero area (850-1000m), with a longer ­maturation cycle and later grape-picking period. The Bodegas Garmón Continental are therefore the third wineries of the family and are in their own premises at Olivares de Duero, just 15km from the main winery. This time in the heart of the DO Ribera del Duero.

Don Mariano García is an exceptional ­person, a “gentleman” who seems like he is out of a Cervantes novel. His extraordinary intuition and talent to create wines has never made him become too full of himself. On the contrary, he is a person who listens, who absorbs and uses what he’s heard and who appreciates a calm rhythm of interaction, be they with vines or ­nature. Which is why his wines are friendly, personable and not excessively overbearing. They are not too mature, rather they are light and drinkable. Enjoying the fruits of this goodness and dedication is a privilege. In a world of wine defined by trends, boundaries, myths, novelties, continuity is an asset in itself and with Mariano García wines and those of his sons Alberto and Eduardo we can calmly appreciate the roots of their projects which will make history for many decades to come. How do they know? Because some of these decades have already passed and we’re experiencing this history now.