Vega Sicilia Unico Ribera Del Duero
The First Growths of Bordeaux, Grand Cru in Burgundy, Opus One in California, the very top wines in the world are few and far between. Vega-Sicilia is considered the sole 'First Growth' equivalent of Spain.
Vega-Sicilia was founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves in a harsh corner of the wine region of Ribera del Duero. While the 'Rioja' wine region is considered one of the great wine regions of Spain, 'Ribera' would certainly produce arguably the best wines in the country. Their top tier wine is the 'Unico', only slightly less prestigious is the 'Valbuena'.
The family owns an impressive 240 hectares of vines, with 140 hectares dedicated to the Unico and Valbuena wines. The vineyards are planted largely with Tempranillo, but also interspersed with Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere and Malbec. Many of the vines are 130-150 years old.
The soils that the Unico and Valbuena wines are grown on are gentle slopes consisting of a fine mix of colluvial deposits from the hillsides above, along with sandy limestone and a layer of quartz gravel beneath. These endure a harsh climate - baking hot and very dry summers and cold winters.
Unico blends Tempranillo with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon - aged for 6 years in barrel and a minimum of 4 years bottle age (often much longer) before release. The Valbuena still showcases Tempranillo but blended with small amounts of Merlot, and aged for 5 years before release.
“I tasted a bottle of the 2009 Único blind and was taken by the freshness, the red fruit notes and the Burgundian-like characteristics of this vintage, which on paper was quite warm and dry. I also tasted the 2009 Valbuena, which is always more approachable, and was blown away by its aromatics. With time in the glass the Único opened up and got closer to the character of Valbuena but with more depth and clout, while showing extremely elegant. I tasted it again in the context of all the wines from the group, and it delivered all that I saw when I tasted it blind. It takes some time to unfurl its aromatic palette, and it feels young and somewhat undeveloped, younger than it is. It has a touch that made me think of the old vintages of Único on the nose but with very polished tannins and a soft mouthfeel that provides elegance. This is a wine that ages for no less than ten years before it's released. 2009 seems like a great vintage for Vega Sicilia, much better than what I anticipated. It should develop nicely in bottle.”
98 pts – Wine Advocate
- Spain - Castilla y Leon
- Red Wine
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