2018 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5º

179.95 148.72
Type of Wine Red
Country Spain
Region Castilla y Leon
Appellation Ribera del Duero
Winery Vega Sicilia
Year 2018
Grape Malbec Merlot Tempranillo
Content (Alc) 0.75 ltr (14%)
Drink window 2023 - 2032
View all characteristics Discover more about this wine

Bodegas Vega Sicilia is one of the absolute top ten of the wine world and has long been an icon of wine country Spain. Founded in 1864 and still alive and kicking, it is also a leader in quality and one of the most modern wine companies in the country. This is partly due to the current owners, the Alvarez family, who bought Vega Sicilia in 1982 and since then, with unrelenting investments, in better and worse times, have improved the quality of both the vineyard and the bodega. At the same time they bought properties in Toro, Pintia and in Ribera del Duero, Alion.

The 2018 Valbuena comes from a cooler vintage. The 2018 Valbuena is a blend of 96% Tinto Fino and 4% Merlot that were fermented with indigenous yeasts, followed by malolactic in stainless steel. The élevage was in new and used oak barrels of 225 liters and oak barrels of 21,000 liters. This is a very spicy vintage for Valbuena, closer to Único's style. 2018 was a late maturing year and this benefits the freshness. The taste is medium to full, with very fine tannins that made the wine nicely structured and very elegant. The Valbuena is intense and complex, with fresh dark and red fruits and an attractive floral and peppery note followed by hints of cedar wood, sweet spices and vanilla. Very juicy on the palate, with fine-grained powdery tannins intertwined with the fruit.


A large part of the wooden barriques used on the estate are manufactured in the in-house tonnellerie, mainly from American oak. The wood is dried for at least 3 years. Once the humidity has dropped below 12%, the maître-tonnelier starts his work. The élevage of the wines starts in January, first in large foeders and then in new oak barrels. For the Valbuena, this takes about 3.5 years. The Unico will have an élevage of at least 7 years. During the period of élevage, the wines are always transferred to older barrels in order to find a perfect balance. Once found, they go back into large wooden casks. After bottling, the Valbuena remains on the domain for at least 1.5 years in perfect climatic conditions. The Unico remains on the domain for at least 3 years and the large formats often much longer.

Vineyard for 2018 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5º

The history of Vega Sicilia originated in 1864 with an unprecedented revolutionary step for that time. In that year, Eloy Lecanda founded the winery and imported 18,000 cuttings of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot and pinot noir from Bordeaux. He plants those cuttings on his father's finca, just east of Valladolid. A long education on barrique and wooden foeders follows. Only in 1915 did the domain itself bottle the first Valbuena and Vega Sicilia. Vega Sicilia established its reputation for good in 1929 at the Barcelona World Fair. There the volumes 1917 and 1918 receive an award. From that moment on, the company enlarged its image to its current, almost legendary dimensions.

In 1982 a new era began with the takeover of the domain by the current owner, the Alvarez family. The new owner immediately starts an extensive program of investments in the vineyards and the cellars, without affecting the uniqueness of Vega. In that year the DO Ribera del Duera is also established. After the successful takeover of Vega Sicilia, the Alvarez family is thinking of further expansion. They look for the best terroirs and add a number of famous or promising wine regions to their property in a relatively short time.

This domain, the most famous in Spain, was founded by Eloy Lecanda in 1864. Throughout its history, the domain has belonged to several families, but it has always kept its uniqueness and class. It all started in 1848 when Don Toribio Lecanda, a Basque, helped Marqués de Valbuena out of financial difficulties by buying a 2000 ha property. When on July 22, 1859 Don Eloy Lecanda inherited this domain from his father, he decided to do something with it. In 1864, he moved to Bordeaux and bought 18,000 vines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec, Merlot and Pinot Noir. When he planted it on his Finca Vega Sicilia, it was an act of astonishment for many. After all, the domain mainly lived on livestock, orchards and the sale and production of ceramics.
When the Lecanda family also ran into financial difficulties, a new lender entered: the Herrero family. 15 years later, Antonio Herrero Velázquez acquired the entire domain. In 1905 the management of the domain came into the hands of Txomin Garramiola. This Bask actually worked for the Riojabodega Cosme Palacio. Since the phyloxera had difficulties to continue supplying his customers in Bilbao with wine - Bilbao was at that time the nerve center for Spanish wines, especially those of Rioja - he introduced Antonio Herrero's sons, who had been responsible since 1901 were for the domain, to rent the bodega to him for a term of 10 years. Palacio took Txomin as a confidant, he would make the wine. The style of this wine would be in line with the wine that the customers of Cosme Palacio were used to, ie in the Rioja style: long maturations on wood and bottling when orders arrived, never before. The domain was then called Bodegas de Lecanda.
When the rent expired in 1915 and the domain was renamed Hijos de Antonio Herrero, the 3 brothers convinced Txomin to stay on the job. After all, it was a matter of prestige that the wine would be made further. From 1915, Txomin was able to make its own wines, which no longer served to make up for the shortage of Rioja at Cosme Palacio. This meant the birth of Vega Sicilia Unico and Valbuena.
The Herrero family was at that time in the highest Spanish circles of the aristocracy and industrialists. The bodega was a very loss-making activity, but the other revenues of the Finca had to close this gap. He never intended to turn Vega Sicilia into a wine that would be commercialized. After all, the wine was not for sale ... and only served as a prestige for the Herrero family. The wine could only be bought with friendship and not with money. If someone wanted to buy a bottle without being friends with the Herrero's, they asked a price that was out of all proportion at the time. This gradually gave rise to the myth of the most expensive wine in Spain.
The wine enjoyed great success throughout Europe in the 1920s. Txomin dies in 1933 and in 1952 the domain is sold to Prodes, a seed factory. However, there was no longer the enthusiasm of the Herrero brothers. Until the entrance of Jesús Anadón, who remained manager of the domain until the sale to the current owners.
The sale to the Alvarez family in 1982 was the best thing that could happen to Vega Sicilia. The family bought Finca Vega Sicilia as an investment - the Eulen family business is mainly engaged in industrial cleaning and security services and is one of Spain's largest corporate groups. They realized that the thread of evolution had to be picked up and have since continuously invested in this domain. Pablo Alvarez heads the group Vega Sicilia.
Xavier Ausas has been head of technical staff as an oenologist since 1998. Today Vega Sicilia is more alive than ever!

The entire domain covers 1000 ha. 250 ha of which are vineyards, divided among Tinto fino (200 ha), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. A meticulous system has been introduced for viticulture whereby production can never rise above 22 hl / ha (max. 2 kg of grapes per stick). The grapes are never harvested under 13% alcohol. 2200 canes are planted per ha. The oldest vines are used for the Unico, the others for the Valbuena. The latter also contains more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Unico is just the other way around.
The entire area has a clay-lime soil, with a number of mixed zones and a part alluvial with sandy bottoms and boulders (from the domain to the Duero). The climate is continental with Atlantic influences. Little rainfall (never more than 500 mm). On average 2200 hours of sunshine. The proximity of the Duero ensures that the morning dew has a refreshing effect on the vineyards.

The common thread in this domain: there is no rush to make good wines ...

The secret of Vega Sicilia lies in a complex of factors:

* quality of the soil
* climate (micro and meso)
* large percentage of very old sticks
* very low yield, eight to twenty hectoliters per hectare, depending on the year
* very long maturation in barrel
* perfectionism in all aspects

Reserva Especial
This wine is composed of a selection of at least three different top vintages Unico from tinto fino and cabernet sauvignon. This is unique in Spain and possibly even worldwide. The youngest volume is at least ten years old and ripens on wood until assembly and bottling. The Reserva Especial is produced in very small quantities and gets exceptionally high scores in the trade press every time. The grapes of old vines with a particularly high natural concentration allow this exquisite wine to retain its fruit and great complexity and develop length.

Unico is Vega's reference wine. In a good year, about one third of production can consist of Unico. The wood maturation system has remained unchanged since Vega established its reputation. After fermentation, the wine goes into large oak wood casks for a while. The wine is then selected: Will it be Unico or Valbuena? If Unico is chosen, the wine goes for about a year in new French oak barriques. Then it matures in American oak barriques. The duration depends on the year. After that, the wine goes back into large casks. Unico is usually bottled after about six years of wood maturation and after that time it will continue to bottle-age for at least four more years. In exceptional years, the duration of wood maturation can reach up to nine years. Vega only releases Unico in good years. Unico is only produced from grapes of on average 35 year old vines. The blend usually consists of approximately 80% tinto fino and approximately 20% cabernet sauvignon. Sometimes a small percentage of merlot is also used.

Valbuena is usually made from a blend of about 80% tinto fino and 20% merlot and malbec. In a year when no Unico is made, cabernet sauvignon can be added. The sticks are at least twenty years old and the wine is aged for three to four years according to the same recipe as Unico: first foeder, then one year French and American barrique, then back again in wooden foeder and finally another 1 to 2 years in the bottle. Valbuena is only put on the market after five years. Valbuena is a great wine in itself and actually has all the characteristics of the Unico, but with a slightly different composition of grape varieties.

Race, intensity, height
All Vega wines combine concentration with elegance, pairing intensity and variety with complexity and length. Valbuena is a bit more open and easier to understand than the almost esoteric Unico and Reserva Especial. Flavors that often recur in tasting notes are: red fruit - cassis, strawberry, cherry - plum, mint, fig, spice, licorice, mocha, coconut, chocolate and the like. The wines often seem much younger than they really are; in particular the Unico and Reserva Especial.

Aliòn released his first volume in 1994. The bodega was taken over two years earlier. In the meantime, the cellars have been adapted several times, the last time before the 2000 harvest. Then the stainless steel fermentation tanks were replaced by oak barrels and a new, climate-controlled barrier cellar was put into use. Last summer, the company installed an entirely new bottling line.

Modern wines
Aliòn has a different philosophy than Vega Sicilia. In Aliòn, modern wines are made from 100% tinto fino. After fermentation, the wine goes on new French barriques for fourteen to eighteen months. After bottling, Aliòn receives an additional two years of bottle maturation. The style resembles that of a modern made grand cru from Bordeaux and then tinto fino: concentrated, but with a certain elegance and great length.

Tinto de Toro - Pintia
This latest project by the Alvarez family in the emerging area of Toro is already causing quite a stir. Vineyard prices allegedly rose across the area as rumor spread that Vega's owner was selecting the best terroirs. The family bought seventy acres of vineyard in the selected zones. Part of it is planted with old tinto de toro. Although this is a variation of the tempranillo, there are still clear differences: the skin is thicker and the grapes are smaller. This makes the tinto de toro more resistant to the sometimes merciless shining sun and high temperatures during the day.

Alvarez built new cellars in San Roman de Hornija opposite Dos Victorias bodega. The first 2001 harvest immediately got very high with the well-known wine critics. In the USA there has been a run on this wine, which is remarkable for a first vintage!

The Pintia is extremely limited because the wine is only made from grapes from old vines. Production will increase in the future. Pintia is raised for twelve to fourteen months in new oak barrels of which 70% French and 30% American. The wine is characterized by a strong concentration with trays of red and black fruit, supported by a nice spiciness and the vanilla tone of the barriques.

More Information
Type of Wine Red
Country Spain
Region Castilla y Leon
Appellation Ribera del Duero
Winery Vega Sicilia
Grape Malbec, Merlot, Tempranillo
Biological certified No
Vegan No
Year 2018
Drinking as of 2023
Drinking till 2032
Alcohol % 14
Alcohol free/low No
Content 0.75 ltr
Oak aging Yes
Sparkling No
Dessert wine No
Closure Cork
Parker rating 96
James Suckling rating 96
Tasting Profiles Complex, Dry, Aged on wood, Powerful, Spicy, Red fruit, Tannines, Full
Drink moments Indruk maken, Lekker luxe, Open haard
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