The Legendary Mariano Garcia

September 15, 2009

We didn’t have a map of tiny Tudelo de Duero on our trip to Spain trip last June. We didn’t need one since Bodegas Mauro’s website shows the winery is located smack dab in the center of the village. But after passing the white asparagus vendor for the third time and finally driving around the perimeter of town, we decided to park and search by foot. Workers from the bodega actually found us — in an alley, pointing at the fermentation tanks. It turns out that Mauro’s Export Manager had seen us drive by and had tried to flag us down. He ushered us into the historic 17th century manor house on the main street which indeed is the original winery, purchased by Mariano Garcia’s family in 1980.

Mariano Garcia has been a legend in the world of wine since his teens. Son of a vineyard worker, he happened to pass by the winemaker’s office one day when they needed another taster. With no knowledge of wines, he was the only one to pick out the two identical wines in a blind tasting of 20. He was put to work in the winery and trained at the School of Winemaking and Viticulture in Madrid. At the age of 24 he was made winemaker at the estate, which was Bodegas Vega Sicilia, the most prestigous winery in Spain.

Mariano Garcia has always pushed boundaries to produce unique and expressive wines with great finesse. In the mid-1980s, Mariano created the concept of Alion, a more contemporary and affordable style of wine for Vega Sicilia from a separate estate in Ribera del Duero. Early on, he recognized the potential of the Toro region and established Bodegas Pintia for Vega Sicilia. Now partnered with sons Alberto and Eduardo, the Garcias exemplify the tremendous potential of modern Spanish winemaking from diverse vineyards.

And if you visit Tudelo de Duero, there are two restaurants that should not be missed. Meson Zurita is famous for grilled lamb but it wasn’t open the day we were there. We chose Restaurant 239 which specializes in home-style cooking using local, seasonal products. The food is amazing, especially the thin sliced potatoes baked in the wood oven with onion, jamon serrano, cream and olive oil. I just wish we had remembered to take a picture of it before we polished it off! Restaurant 239 has no menu and they don’t speak English. It’s worth a long detour to eat here.


2004 Mas de Leda, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon ($19.99) Co-owned by Mariano Garcia, Bodegas Leda is a boutique winery that produces two red wines from 16 small plots around Castilla y Leon. Made from 100% old vine Tempranillo, the grapes are hand-harvested in small boxes, hand-sorted and vinified in the small gravity winemaking facility in Valladolid. The best grapes go into Leda, which sells for about $90.00 per bottle. The remaining fruit goes into Mas de Leda which is a full bodied red wine with silky tannins, bright red and black fruit flavors, balance and a persistent mineral finish. We recently tasted 2004 Mas de Leda again and it’s a beautiful wine, very concentrated, with great lift and smooth texture. Highly recommended!

2004 Condita, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon ($28.99) A boutique garagista wine made by Eduardo Garcia, it is produced from 100% old vine Tempranillo and made in Michelin-star chef Jesus Ramiro’s basement. Condita was created to serve at Ramiro’s Restaurant in Valladolid. Only 10 barrels are produced and very little is exported to the U.S. A blend of Tempranillo grapes from the regions of Ribera del Duero and Toro, Condita has brawny tannins, black currant and boysenberry fruit and an earthy spiciness. Showcase this unusual wine at your next Spanish wine tasting!

2007 Prima, Toro ($22.99) This is a tremendous wine for the price! With violet and dusty aromas, it is expansive and complex. Hints of anise with concentrated blackberry notes and mineral go through several changes on the palate as it swirls around. “Black raspberry, rose and licorice on the nose and palate. Supple, round, elegant and spicy, with a late note of candied flowers joined by a suggestion of rooty licorice.” Stephen Tanzer 89 points, Wine Advocate 90 points

2004 Bodegas Maurodos San Roman Toro ($57.00) “Alluring plum, blackberry, cola and spice cake flavors are rich and balanced in this expressive Spanish red. There’s plenty of structure, but it doesn’t get in the way of the flavors, and the spicy, floral finish is long and fresh. Best after 2009. ” 6,100 cases made. Wine Spectator 94 points. Spectator’s Top 100 wines 2008, Rank 36

2004 Mauro, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon ($48.00) When Bodegas Mauro was established in 1980, there were only 4 wineries in the region. In 1982 the D.O. Ribera del Duero was laid out and the boundaries stopped short of Tudelo de Duero, allowing Bodegas Mauro the freedom to produce wines without restrictions and to use other grapes in their blends. Mauro is made of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Syrah and is characterized by expressive black fruit, structure and finesse. “Explosive scents of cherry, strawberry liqueur, spice cake, molasses and mocha. Round, juicy and deep, with exotic oak spices adding complexity to the red and dark fruit flavors. The finish offers terrific energy and clarity, especially for the impressive concentration of flavor here. This very long wine shows wonderful balance, which bodes well for cellaring.” Stephen Tanzer 92 points, Wine Advocate 92 points

2001 Mauro Terreus Pago de Cueva Baja, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($133.00) A modern-style wine produced from 100 year old vines from a single plot, it spends 32 months in French oak and has powerful depth. We drank this wine with our lunch at Restaurant 239 and its almost limitless complexity truly impressed us. Only 8000 bottles produced. “Blackberry, bitter chocolate and a sweet whiff of pastry on the nose. Superconcentrated, sweet and creamy, with penetrating dark berry, violet and bitter chocolate flavors framed and intensified by strong, harmonious acidity. A wonderfully viscous yet high-pitched wine with fruit of steel. Finishes with outstanding length, a suggestion of graphite, and broad, fine tannins that coat the front teeth. A superb 2001.” Stephen Tanzer 93 points

“It is a potential legend in the making.” Wine Advocate 96 points

2002 Mauro VS, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon ($100.00) ” Sexy nose combines oak spices, blackberry, cassis, cured tobacco and smoky meat aromas, plus a hint of iron. Lush and powerful, with a chewy, dense texture, good weight and powerful, open-knit dark berry flavors framed by smooth, pliant tannins. The sweet dark fruit flavors linger impressively on the finish. Really pretty, elegant wine, and tasting very good right now.” Stephen Tanzer 91 points

The other night we tossed together an easy tapa for some friends and called it “Pig Meets Fig.”

One package dried figs

One 4 oz package jamon serrano

4 tablespoons sweet sherry

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil


Wrap each fig in a slice of jamon and secure with a toothpaste. Pour the sherry on top and marinate for an hour. When ready to cook, heat the butter and olive oil in a saute pan. When oil is hot, add the wrapped figs and brown on each side. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve. “It’s like breakfast and dessert all in one” our friends exclaimed.



Barcelos Portuguese-style Linguica: Made in California, put one of these tasty sausages on an asador and roast it over the flames! Comes in hot, medium or mild. $7.99 per pound


The Barcelona Cookbook ($29.99) Written by the owners of The Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurants in Connecticut, this book explores the world of Spanish-inspired tapas and beverages. A chapter on libations includes recipes for sangria along with cocktails, and a primer on Spanish wines. Recipes for hot and cold tapas, party dishes and desserts are accompanied by inspiring photos. 115 recipes in a hardback cover.



2007 Bodegas Paternina Banda Dorada Blanco Joven, Rioja ($9.99) This easy drinking white wine has legions of fans in Spain and America, and we finally have it in stock! Made of 100% Viura it is a fresh, unoaked white with bright apple notes and clean acidity. Great with ceviche!

2008 La Cana Albariño, Rias Baixas ($15.99) Nora Albariño was a best seller but was an unfortunate casulty of the economic crisis. Nora’s former winemaker has teamed up with Jorge Ordonez to produce this lean, flinty and balanced albariño. A great value, La Cana is 20% oaked which gives an elegance to its fresh citrus flavors. “…Their intention was to make a more austere style of Albarino. Light gold-colored, it reveals an attractive perfume of pear, lemon-lime, and pineapple. Vibrant on the palate with excellent natural acidity, this racy Albarino will drink well for another three years.” Wine Advocate 89 points


Are you feeling an itch to travel? You can join us on a trans-Atlantic cruise to some of our favorite destinations with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, from October 12-29, 2009. We have selected great Spanish and Portuguese wines to be served on board, and with a limit of 148 passengers, it will feel like being on your own ship. The trip begins in Lisbon and stops at the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Cabo Verde islands, then crosses the Atlantic Ocean to finish at Salvador, Brazil. For more information, follow this link:

Have a great week!


Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, Owners

Spanish Table



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Filed under Books, Red Wine, Spain

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