Category-Shattering Dueros: The Return of Alfredo Maestro Tejero
by Ariana Rolich
Alfredo Maestro Tejero was celebrated in our pre-sale last year as "A Magician in the Duero" for elevating the integrity of his appellation while eschewing its label. A native of Peñafiel, the heart of Ribera del Duero, Maestro started planting vines, buying grapes, and making wine in 1998. He played by the rules of modern oenology, but soon learned that truly expressive and original wines are only achieved through natural practices and minimal intervention in the vines and cellar: no synthetic chemicals, biodynamics "sin fanatismo," and no added sulfur during elevage (except at bottling for export). He chooses freedom over branding, working under the broader Castilla y León indication in order to pursue vines outside the limits of the Ribera D.O.
The plateau surrounding the Duero River offers prodigious altitudes, limestone outcrops, and alluvial terroirs that are well-suited to the growth of Tempranillo (Tinto Fino or Tinta del País, locally). This is a sensitive variety with relatively modest acidity that needs reduced yields, ample elevation, and gentle treatment in the cellar in order to achieve balance in the bottle. International hype encouraged a generation of Dueros marked by excessive oak and extraction; Maestro's Tempranillos lift the shroud of style, revealing the vitality that lies beneath. Natural without feeling wild, they speak clearly of the enduring commitment to organic farming and no-nonsense winemaking that allow the fruit of varied vines to sing of origin with energy and ease.
An outstanding skin-contacted white from 102-year-old Albillo vines, as well as a Garnacha-based blend from Maestro's outpost near Madrid round out this offering. We are lucky to have received a bit more wine this year, but quantities are still limited. Allocations are noted in item descriptions.
To purchase the wines click here.