Born into a family of winegrowers from El Pego, in the southeastern edge of DO Toro, Alvar de Dios decided to leave his small village to hone his winemaking skills in Sierra de Gredos working as cellar master for Bodega Marañones alongside his friends Fernando García and Dani Landi (Comando G).
In 2008, he inherited three hectares of ungrafted vineyards planted in 1919 by Aciano, his grandfather. At an elevation of 700m and found on sandy soils, Alvar farmed the vines —mostly Tempranilllo, with a few others mixed in— organically and released his first wine in 2011. Called Aciano (7.500 bottles, around €18), it is fresh and has fine tannins, a world away from the big bold red wines usually found in Toro.
At a higher elevation (950m), Vagüera was the second old vineyard he purchased just outside the boundaries of the DO Toro. Facing north but sheltered by a forest, Vagüera is a small plot of land planted mostly to Albillo with a dozen other varieties mixed in on rocky red clay soils. This vineyard is the origin of his aromatic and complex white Vagüera (1,700 bottles, €23).
In addition to his single vineyard wines, Alvar makes Tío Uco (20,000 bottles, €8), his entry-level wine. Grapes are sourced from three different plots in northwestern Toro ranging in age from 25–40 years old. Farmed organically, they are mainly Tinta de Toro with some Garnacha and the wine is fermented with whole bunches and indigenous yeasts.
Once he had settled back in his village, Alvar decided to explore Arribes del Duero, a remote area bordering Portugal with indigenous varieties that have great potential. Camino de los Arrieros (4,800 bottles, €15) was his first wine in the region and follows the same fresh, subtle style of his wines from Toro. It is a field blend of mainly Juan García, Rufete, Trincadeira Preta and Bastardo grapes which he purchases from a local grower and vinifies with full clusters and natural yeasts.
He recently released two more wines from this region. Las Vidres (460 bottles, €40) is a white wine made from Doña Blanca and it comes from a south-facing vineyard on slate soils. Yavallo (300 bottles, €40) is the name of a red wine that blends in old Bastardo, Rufete, Trincadeira Preta, Mencía grapes and a bit of white Doña Blanca. Both come from a village called Villadepera.