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Bodegas Mauro, Vendimia Seleccionada 2003

A busy year is coming to an end. I could write about how busy it was, but the very slow trickle of posts on the Wine Rambler makes that obvious enough. Instead I feel like leaning back, pouring myself a comforting wine and relax. A wine with substance and soothing qualities, something with a personal connection but less intellectual challenge than the Rieslings I love so much. It is time to open a special red wine that had been sitting in my cellar waiting for a moment like this. Or maybe his is just a pretentious way of saying: after maybe five years stored in a wardrobe I feared the Mauro really needed drinking.

The first time I came across Bodegas Mauro was in 2006. To celebrate my viva, my dad gave me two bottles of red he had kept back for a special moment: a Pontet-Canet and a Mauro. The Pontet-Canet was a revelation to my uneducated palate, and I would still rate it as one of the best wines I ever tasted. The Mauro was maybe not quite as refined but I remember remarkable fruitiness and a feeling of soothing satisfaction. It was that feeling that prompted me a few years later to buy another bottle - at the time it was my most expensive single wine purchase and at way over €50 it still ranks in the absolute top. Bodegas Mauro was founded in 1971 and has since developed a reputation far beyond the Duero valley. The wines are made with indigenous yeasts and aged in French and American oak barrels - my 2003 was bottled in 2007. I recently heard it described as "blockbuster style", but that gives the impression that muscles and fun lack meaning. The Mauro clearly has power but it is no cheap show-off. The dark cherry colour is really very dark, there is lots of alcohol and the tannins have muscle, but the overall impression is of an accomplished, well rounded wine that is oh so drinkable. Athletic man in a suit, not cheap muscle in a t-shirt. Ripe black fruit (berries and plum), liquorice, nicely integrated oak (cocoa, peppery spice, dark chocolate) and pleasing earthiness and acidity. You will notice the 15% ABV but if this lover of light and vibrant Riesling can quaff away a strong Tempranillo like nothing you will too. Whether I would recommend the wine or not depends on what sort of drinker you are. If money is a very important consideration or if you value value than I would say you get something decent for a fifth of the price or something nearly as good for a little more than half. However, if like in my case the Mauro comes just at the right time, if you have a personal connection or if you look for a berry indulgence and do not mind the extra spend then it may be just the right choice for this winter. Or for winters to come - even after a good decanting the 2003 was still going strong, so it should last for quite a while.

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