Once decreed as “The Lafite of Spain” by Michael Broadbent MW, Vega Sicilia’s Gran Reserva Unico is one of Spain’s most sought after releases each and every vintage, and this week’s release of the sensational 2010 vintage is certain to be considered one of their best ever. Although it is yet to be scored by The Wine Advocate, the 2010 vintage has already received its first perfect 100 point score from Spain enthusiast Tim Atkin, who exalts, “this is a stunning Único, reflecting the quality of one of the greatest vintages of the last century” as well as a near-perfect 99 points from James Suckling who highlights, “so much depth and beauty.” Volumes are extremely limited with every release so are pleased to be able to offer a very limited parcel at £672 IB per 3 bottles.
Beyond just being considered “Spain’s First Growth,” Unico is an essential addition to any serious wine collection alongside the greatest wines of France, Italy and beyond. As the Estate produces a meagre 6,000 cases of Unico a year, combined with its strong global demand, it is no wonder that Unico begins to experience a steep increase in price after just a decade in bottle, as demonstrated in the table below, in addition to becoming nearly impossible to find any real quantity on the global market.
Not to be overlooked, we are also able to offer the fantastic value, Valbuena 5° 2015 today, once again exemplifying another stellar vintage in Spain. Often considered the “baby brother” of Unico, the Valbuena is known for offering exceptional value for money. James Suckling has already awarded the 2015 vintage with a best ever score of 97 points, praising it as, “Dense and layered with so much wonderful, complex and succulent character. It just makes you want to drink it.” That combined with a superb 97 points from Tim Atkin, who considers it, “one of the best Valbuenas” he has ever tasted. This solidifies the 2015 vintage as an absolutely essential purchase, available today at the price of £267 IB per 3 bottles.
Vega Sicilia is the most significant wine producer in Spain, considered amongst the greatest in the world. Their property is found 700 metres above sea level in the shallow Spanish part of the Duero River valley on the high remote plateau of Castilla y Leon. This unique climate delivers cold nights and hot days, allowing the grapes to become beautifully ripe and develop wonderful tannic structure, with a delightful backbone of acidity and therefore superb balance.
The Unico blend combines Tempranillo with a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, thereby producing a true synthesis between Spain’s leading variety and the best of Bordeaux. The winery was founded in 1864 by Don Lecanda y Chaves, who planted Bordeaux grape varieties, which are still used today and since 1982 the winery has been owned by the Alvarez family. The vineyards express the local terroir in its most sublime form, with many vines more than 100 years old and amazingly their signature wines, Reserva Especial and Unico are harvested at less than one ton per acre.
The Valbuena 5° takes its name from the village where it is produced. It is aged for less time than the Unico or the Reserva Especial with the 5° designating the years it has been aged before release. The wine is made from younger vines, although their aggregate age would compete with most other leading wines. It has a similar blend to its older brother Unico and the Valbuena 5° is best thought of as a younger sibling. It retains the cherry colour, and special, subtle oxidative evolution boasting espresso, bay leaf, refined tannins, cedar, mocha and incredible charm. It is released younger because it can be enjoyed sooner, spending three years aging in barrel and two years in bottle. It is aged in new barrels, 50% French oak, imparting vanilla, toast and brioche, as well as 50% in American oak, adding coconut and spice. Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) forms the backbone of Vega Sicilia’s wines, a grape with great resilience to oxidation. The Valbuena is made from 95% Tinto Fino and 5% Merlot, from vineyards that boast no yields exceeding 32 hectolitres per acre with vines between aged 25 and 30 years old.