Neil Martin: Vega Unico is one of those wines worth buying on release, rising in price & continuing to increase after years in bottle. The Estate produces a meagre 6,000 cases of Unico a year and the wine has a striking vintage premium. A wine which comes into its own with 10+ years of patience behind it. 'Spain has one Koh-i-noor diamond that has represented the apogée of Spanish wine for over a century: "Vega Sicilia".
Vega Sicilia, Spain's "first growth"; and most prestigious wine estate, is located in Ribera del Duero, beside a highway east of Valladolid. The estate covers around 1000 hectares, of which 230 - 250 are under vines. It was founded in 1864 by Don EloyLecanday Chaves, who arrived from Bordeaux with cuttings of local grapes (Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec) and planted them, together with Spain's signature grape Tinto Fino (clone of Tempranillo) in the arid Ribera soils.
The winery begun building its formidable reputation after 1903 under the ownership of Antonio Herrero, winning a number of awards, and enjoying an international distribution. The estate changed hands several more times before its acquisition by the current owners, the Alvarez family, in 1982.
Vega Sicilia has founded its success on its meticulous wine-producing practices: In the vineyard it applies low yields, aided by green harvesting, and a painstaking grape selection. In the winery, wines undertake a complicated series of rackings from huge barrels to new and old oak. Despite the very prolonged barrel ageing, e.g. the 1970 Unico has over 16 years, the wine flavours are never dried out or overly oaky when mature, which is compelling evidence of the superb quality of its raw materials.
Notes and Reviews
Simon Field MW: A more feminine Unico than some, perhaps, but also more precise and poised and , to my palate at least, purer and more approachable in relative youth than some of its forebears. Ageing potential has not been entirely forsaken, however, as the sturdy tannins at the back and lingering savoury notes both serve to emphasise. A Unico for all seasons in other words, underlining once again the significance of the work done in the vineyards under the Alvarez regime and the unrivalled gifts of Javier Ausás as a winemaker.
|Age of Vines||40 years old|
|Vinification||Hand picked, then fermentation and maceration in oak vats before pressing.|
|Elevage||14 months in large oak barrels followed by 24 months in new barriques, before being transferred to old barriques for 17 months and then eventually 22 months in large wooden vats|
|Soil Type||Clay over Schist subsoil|