As has been obvious over the years, we are huge fans of Spanish wines. We love the dusty plum fruit of an old Rioja and the opulence of an old vine Garnacha that tastes like a new twist on Chateauneuf. But we also understand that these are unique flavor profiles that might take a little getting used to for someone accustomed to the straightforward, in-your-face blast of fruit from a top flight Napa Cabernet. Well here we are going to present an immensely impressive wine that not only will pander to the hedonists who like a lot of engaging flavor up front, and purists who don’t mind modern styling provided the wine still has the trappings of classic Spanish reds, but save folks money who think you have to pay $150+ to get something truly special.
Mariano Garcia, winemaker at Vega Sicilia for about a couple of decades, is the force behind Bodegas Mauro. This is an exceptional performer in the somewhat less defined Tierra de Castillo y Leon, sort of the outskirts of Ribera del Duero. His ‘regular’ bottling were one of the eye opening efforts that really got us into Spanish wines back in the early 90s, and some of his reserve bottlings have been epic for their genre in the same way that certain producers have become iconic for Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Napa Valley.
This particular wine is a ‘modern’ reserve, meaning that the eye here is on making the best wine possible while no being confined to the guidelines of traditional nomenclature which carry certain rules that winemakers might find a little confining. This wine is not made every year and comes mainly from two plots of older vineyards. The wine was bottled in March, 2017 after spending 26 months in a combination of French and American oak.
The scents of smoke, vanilla, and chocolate harmonize beautifully with the classic cassis and plum fruit character of this 100% Tempranillo. The entry is cool and authoritative with the intensity and dimension of the oak fused with the sleek, polished palate. This is on par with any Classified Growth Bordeaux and we’d make the comparison with a ‘trophy’ Napa Cabernet except that the Mauro Tierra de Castillo y Leon V.S. 2014 is more harmonious and refined than most New World reds we can think of. Packed with flavor, this plays on many levels. You can delve into the wine’s sweet and savory complexity for an engaging intellectual exercise, or you can just sit back and let the intense, layered, toasty, chocolaty flavors roll across the palate.
This is very serious wine that, while it is true to its genre, doesn’t expect you to cross the line to appreciate the context. There’s plenty of well-heeled but intense flavor to make quite an impression. Yeah, 2014 was a problematic vintage in some parts of Europe. But clearly not in the Ribera/Castillo y Leon or a wine of this magnitude would not have been possible. This to us is that ‘crossover wine’ that will give Bordeaux and Cabernet drinkers a whole new perspective. Killer juice here, this wine just arrived and, while this has not been reviewed, this series has averaged 95 in Wine Advocate over the last several vintages. This is definitely one of the best versions of the V.S..