“Bodegas Vega Sicilia remains a benchmark for the world’s great red wines”
Vega Sicilia is Spain’s most famous wine and competes with the greatest wines of France and Italy for pride of place in the Parthenon of the greatest wines in the world and is a must for collectors. Vega Sicilia is the most dialectical wine in the world, synthesising old and new, tradition and innovation. This fusion is possible through combining old vines, terroir and tradition with modern technology and international grape varieties. No other winery ages their wines quite like Vega Sicilia and few can match their vine age or terroir.
Vega Sicilia is the greatest wine from the Ribera del Duero and is Spain’s most exceptional and famous wine. The winery was founded in 1864 by Don Lecanda y Chaves, who planted Bordeaux grape varieties, which are still used today. Since 1982, when the Ribera Del Duero received Denominación de Origen (DO) status, the winery has been owned by the Alvarez family. The vineyards express the local terroir in its most exceptional form, with many vines older than 100 years and amazingly their signature wines, Reserva Especial and ‘Unico’ are harvested at less than one ton per acre. The estate has been run by world famous winemakers including Mariano Garcia and today’s Xavier Ausas.
Vega Sicilia make three wines, the Reserva Especial, ‘Unico’ and Valbuena 5°, each is different in style, expression of terroir and winemaking, each at different price points, all truly exceptional. They release all three of their wines at the same time each year and we are delighted to present allocations of their most recent releases:
Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial NV 2013, 98 Wine Advocate, 3×75 – £520, 6×75 £1,040 (IB)
Spain has a wonderful tradition, born from the fact that historically very few estates ever bottled their own wine, instead selling in cask. As a result they would sell two wines, a vintage wine made from that year alone and another wine without a specific harvest which was called Reserva Especial. The Reserva Especial is their most spectacular wine, a blend of vintages thereby embracing Spanish ageing tradition and grape varieties (80% Tempranillo combined with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). It is made from their oldest vines, often 100 years old and blends three vintages, designed to be more than the sum of their parts and selected for the individual characteristics to achieve balance. The vintage name is taken from the year of release when the estate feels it is ready.
‘Unico’ Reserva Especial is their most critically acclaimed wine and in 2013 they produced a truly must have wine. In 2013 they blended the great vintages of 1994, 1995 and 2000 and received an outstanding 98 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, second only in its history to the 99 point 2010. The wine is made in very small quantities and only available on allocation, we are delighted to offer the 2013, a rare and extraordinary wine and blend of vintages.
“The 2013 Release… has a beautifully complex bouquet, a silky-smooth texture, elegance, and a long, pure finish. It should drink well for another 25 years. Bodegas Vega Sicilia remains a benchmark for the world’s great red wines… The Reserva Especials are blended to a house style designed to reflect Vega Sicilia at its very best. The vagaries of vintage (as reflected in Unico) are blended away leaving a wine that is, in my opinion, better than any of the single vintage wines with the possible exception of the 1942.” 98 points, Jay Miller Wine Advocate, drink 2013-2023
Vega Sicilia ‘Unico’ 2003, 94 Wine Advocate, 3×75 – £495, 6×75 – £990 (IB)
‘Unico’ is the flagship wine of Vega Sicilia. The blend combines Tempranillo with a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, thereby producing a true synthesis between Spain’s leading variety and the best of Bordeaux. The ‘Unico’ produces a meagre 6,000 cases a year which is still more than the Reserva Especial therefore, you will find it on most great wine lists.
Vega Sicilia spares no expense on ‘Unico’, it sees 15 months in large oak barrels followed by 25 months in new barriques, before being transferred to old barriques for 17 months and then eventually 22 months in large wooden vats, that is truly painstaking winemaking. The outcome is a wine that retains fresh acidity that balances with the wines ample alcohol. It is a wonderful cherry colour, boasting unparalleled classic Tempranillo flavours, but with hints of darker more Cabernet Sauvignon fruits. The time spent in new oak provides a delectable bouquet of coconut and spices, the time spent in old casks delivers a slight oxidative evolution resulting in notes of hazelnuts, thyme, pine nuts, dill, rosemary and chalk. The sheer purity of fruit, like the Reserva Especial, is staggering, distinct and truly remarkable.
“As I uncork the bottle, the aroma reminds me of a classical Tempranillo, with some dill notes from the American oak and a minty hint from the Cabernet… It starts off slightly lactic, with notes of cafe au lait, coconut and cola. With a bit of time, it turns more flowery and shows more red fruit. It is very aromatic, with plenty dry herbs, thyme and rosemary, even pine nuts, a bit of resin and some cured meat, and overall has a very complex nose. The mouth is a little more transparent toward the heat of the vintage, it is powerful and full-bodied, but manages to keep freshness. The minty note is there, with some hints of chalk that make it very tasty. It feels briary and opulent. A success over the vintage conditions, it already shows some signs of complexity, which points at an approachable Unico. Even though it can be drunk now, it will get more polished and integrated with a few years in bottle.” 94 points, Luis Gutierrez Wine Advocate, anticipated maturity: 2013-2023.
Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5º 2008, 3×75 – £192, 6×75 - £384 (IB)
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.
The three wines each offer something different. The Reserva Especial is essentially a blend of three vintages of Unico and the 2013 offers staggering quality, quite unlike any other wine. The Reserva Especial is one of the world’s leading wines and is extremely rare. The ‘Unico’ as the estate’s flagship wine screams quality and the warm weather in 2003 means the wine is incredibly voluptuous; both will age for decades and are true collector’s wines. The Valbuena 5° can be consumed now and for those who want to try a wine from this great stable at £64 a bottle this is affordable. Vega Sicilia ‘Unico’ and ‘Unico’ Reserva Especial are perennial wines for collecting.