First-ever Terreus all-inclusive vertical tasting.
Mariano García, Spanish Winemaker
There are celebrity chefs and there also wine idols. Sometimes the latter eclipse the first. Not even Ferran Adrià and Juan Mari Arzak together ignited as much fervor and ecstasy among gastronomes when they visited Puerto Rico as Mariano García sparked among oenophiles during his latest stay.
Puerto Rican oenophiles rendered honor to one of their most admired winemakers from Spain, Mariano García, who visited San Juan for a series of grand tastings which wrote an indelible chapter in the history of wine culture in their Caribbean Island.
García, a legendary figure from the Duero river region and one of the most experienced winemakers from Spain, has been related since the 1970s to Puerto Rico where the wines from his family projects Mauro and Maurodos in Castilla-León are top-selling premium wines from Spain. He visited the Island upon the invitation of local Bacchus wine society to conduct the first-ever vertical tasting of all vintages of Terreus, the pinnacle of Mauro (VT Castilla y León) winery’s pyramid of labels.
A Tempranillo from historically illustrious Tudela de Duero, Terreus is a cult wine from Spain born with the 1996 harvest from a small plot called Paraje de la Cueva Baja where very old bush trained vines grow without a plant density reference. This extremely elegant terroir wine is produced only in exceptional vintages, and is marketed with a Vinos de la Tierra indication of origin. 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 are the vintages so far released.
A Spanish Cult Wine
The spectacular encounter reunited 40 privileged and exhilarated wine connoisseurs from Bacchus at Ruth Chris restaurant in the tourist district of Isla Verde, where García explained how he discovered this singular pago and the steps taken to prepare its path towards becoming one of the most admired labels in Spain’s premium wine scene.
The winemaker led the tasting exercise that toured two decades, and also two different centuries, of Terreus, making emphasis on the importance of preserving terroir traits, reviewing highlights from each of the vintages in which the wine was bottled, explaining how the vineyard had been taken care of throughout this period of time, and how vinification and aging were handled at each of the thirteen vintages appraised. “I am thrilled to taste for the first time all these vintages in a single exercise, and be able to ascertain their evolution over time,” said García to www.foodswinesfromspain.com
Intense fruit and spicy notes prevailed throughout the thirteen vintages, which evidenced a round elegance and surprising vivacity in the initial 1996-1998-1999 vintages, qualities sustained through the vintages transcending into the 21st century. These were depicted by good acidity, luscious red and dark berry fruit flavors, refined tannins, an almost transparent reflection of the vintages’ climate highlights, a sensual palate with a long-finish, and a balanced structure that promises impressively long-lasting wines with an outstanding personality and finesse. Coincidently, near the date this historical tasting took place in Puerto Rico, The Wine Advocate magazine unveiled its ratings for the Castile-Duero region in which Terreus 2012 was the second best rated wine with 97 points, and the top ranked among the Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León, revalidating the sensations the Terreus collection left in this vertical tasting exercise.
“This was a historical tasting because it was the first time both our members and the winemaker had such a comprehensive perspective of Bodegas Mauro’s top wine. It was a unique opportunity to assess its progression and have Mariano García himself share his experience creating this treasured wine,” told Alex Canals, President of Bacchus to www.foodswinesfromspain.com A focus on wine education guides Bacchus, an association founded in 1990 in San Juan with a mission to expand wine knowledge through special high-level tastings, and also a convivial vocation to stimulate the friendship of its near 50 members. In the past it has conducted similar vertical tastings of other icon wines from Spain.
Loyalty to the Wines From Spain
Prior to this exceptional wine promenade, García also made history at a colossal oenophile conclave organized by his wineries’ importer Ballester Hermanos, which also for the first-time ever brought together the top wine associations in Puerto Rico around a wine personality. La Cofradía Puertorriqueña del Vino, Bacchus, Friends of the Wines from Spain, and Sociedad de Enófilos gathered at Spanish restaurant Chotis en Avila for a stellar dinner where García paid honor to Puerto Rican oenophiles for their loyalty to the wines from Spain. At the encounter he spoke about his wine projects, including the recently presented GARMON, a new small family project in Ribera Del Duero DO, and introduced new vintages from Mauro (VT Castilla y León) and Maurodos (Toro DO), Tempranillo-based wines which were paired with a skillfully crafted menu of traditional Spanish flavors with a hue of Puerto Rican seasoning.
Spanish Chef Mario Jiménez proposed an asparagus creamy rice for fruit forward Prima 2013 (Toro DO) with a raspberry aroma and chocolate notes; intense berries with a spicy note characterized Mauro 2013 paired sublimely with a yautía tuber mash accompanying a sea bass recipe; coffee dust notes of superbly elegant Mauro Vendimia Seleccionada 2011 perfectly rounded a dish of lamb chops with León-style potatoes and a sauce made of the same wine; and a more robust San Román 2011 (Toro DO) with graphite, mint and licorice notes paired well a suckling pig confit, and brilliantly with a Manchego cheese flan. Both events, dinner and tasting, were sold-out, with wait lists.
Over the years, wine associations have had a starring role in the promotion of the wines from Spain in Puerto Rico, a market whose wine imports from Spain accounted for USD $ 11.7 million in 2014, representing near 27.45% of all wine imports of this market.
Through his high profile role in the global wine scene, and particularly in Latin America, Mariano García has for decades contributed to grant Spanish wines a higher visibility. In 2005 he was one in a quintet of winemakers from Spain who visited the United States as ambassadors for Wines from Spain. In 2011 he was inducted Chevalier of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, a group instituted by Wines from Spain and the British wine sector to recognize the work of professionals who have played a remarkable role in the promotion of Spanish wines in the United Kingdom. In 2012 he was honored by Puerto Rico’s Friends of the Wines from Spain Association, and in 2013 Spain’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy distinguished him with its “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Editor of www.viajesyvinos.com and contributor to other international lifestyle and food & wine publications, Rosa María González Lamas is a Spanish-born, Puerto Rican raised and based communicator specializing in food, wine and travel marketing and writing. She received the CRDO Cava Press Award in 2006 and the Premio Nacional de Periodismo Gastronómico de España Alvaro Cunqueiro in 2007, and has been a jury member of international food and wine competitions.