When it comes to small towns, it doesn’t get much smaller and more remote than Matapozuelos, Spain. And yet we ended up in this tiny pueblo with just over 1,000 residents and a penchant for Rueda wine making, in pursuit of a man named Antonio — thanks to a wine we first sipped over 5,000 miles away in Seattle, Washington.
Cut to a few months earlier, sitting at the bar of Miller’s Guild in Seattle. Manager and sommelier Jake Kosseff simply can’t get enough of the glass of Garciarévalo Casamaro he is tasting. “The aromas of lemon, lime, hints of tropical or stone fruit, and the fresh, bracing palate…” he gushes, “make for a really delightful combination.”
Several time zones away in Matapozuelos, you have to imagine Antonio Arévalo, manager at Garciarévalo and Javier Bardem doppelganger, is smiling with satisfaction — laughing with the same warm, friendly rasp that envelops his speaking voice.
Another happy customer sipping his wine, halfway around the globe.
Born and raised in Matapozuelos, a town nestled deep in the Denominación de Origen Rueda, Antonio was raised surrounded by Rueda wine and the people who produce it vine-to-bottle. But as he watched his peers grow up and move out of their small-town, Antonio couldn’t pry himself away. Life in a factory or working a desk job in Madrid simply wasn’t the life for Antonio, despite a degree in Economics and a building pressure to move on.
So why stay?
“Because this has been my great-grandfather’s, my grandfather’s, and my land. And, if the day comes, my daughters’,” Antonio explains. “I mean, you have a connection to the land, to the vineyard. And if you add to that that you get to sell a product you can see in the United States, for example, then there is a very large, clear sense of satisfaction.”
And with the beautiful, sprawling fields of Verdejo grapes growing under big, blue skies, it’s easy to see the appeal of sticking around.
“We are sitting on a ground, a terroir, that is rather special,” he says.
By special, he means not only gorgeous, but also fantastically unique, rugged, and dry to the point of giant clouds of dust forming when you shuffle your feet. And this special terrain yields an even more special grape — one of a kind even among its brethren varietals throughout Rueda.
…you have a connection to the land, to the vineyard. And if you add to that that you get to sell a product you can see in the United States…then there is a very large, clear sense of satisfaction.
For almost 200 years, the Matapozuelos Verdejo grape has been conforming to these strange lands, beating out the devastation of phylloxera and yielding only the heartiest of grapes. “If you look at the Matapozuelos grape with grapes from other parts of the Rueda, the plant is completely different. Not that it’s any better or worse, it is just totally different. The leaves are much smaller. And the bunches are greener and tighter, more compact.” Antonio says, proudly inspecting the branches of his vines.
Antonio’s love for his land is as real as it is infectious, and he inspires a team of winemakers to produce authentic Rueda wines that reflect the character of Matapozuelos, the spirit of tradition, and an eye towards the contemporary.
“The average age of the entire Garciarévalo team is 37 years or 36 years old. We are a very young team,” Antonio explains. “Working with younger people is a lot of fun.”
And with a Garciarévalo fan base growing from Seattle to New York to Madrid and everywhere between, Antonio has a lot to be satisfied with.His team is constantly innovating, from the contemporary design of the Garciarevalo wine labels to their farming methods to perfecting their viticulture – all in pursuit of a signature wine with international appeal.
For the average American wine drinker, Garciarévalo’s Verdejos will be both familiar and surprising: crisp and summery with a fruit taste that is easy to drink, yet set apart from your typical white. There’s character, depth and a trademark bitterness that comes with good Verdejo wines.“In the United States we are sending out — especially now — Casamaro and Tresolmos Lías” Antonio says. “One is a little more fruity, and it would go a little better as a wine for young people. And then we have Lías, which is a bit more wine with a little more personality and minerality.”
Learn more about Antonio and his Garciarévalo team on their website.