Vega Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial Release 2023 (2009,2011,2012)
Bodegas Vega Sicilia is one of the absolute top ten in the wine world and has been an icon of the wine country of Spain for a long time. Founded in 1864, still alive and kicking, leading in terms of 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 have since improved the quality of both the vineyard and the bodega with relentless investments, through better and worse times. At the same time they bought properties in Toro, Pintia and in Ribera del Duero, Alion.
The Reserva Especial has no vintage and is a tribute to tradition. Vega Sicilia continues the old Spanish custom of bringing different vintages together to create a perfect balance. In Spain, the few winemakers who had a bottling process traditionally prepared two types of wines for each harvest: that of the current year and another wine without a specific harvest, which they called "Reserva Especial". This was an assembly of wines from the best harvests from which the most representative wine of the winery was made.
The Vega Sicilia Especial is a vintage wine that is a blend of actually the best barriques Unico with the aim of making an extremely consistent wine and Vega Sicilia is a master at this. The NV Único Reserva Especial 2023 Release is a blend produced with the 2009, 2011 and 2012 vintages. It is a blend of Tinto Fino with some Cabernet Sauvignon with 14% alcohol, a pH of 3.85 and 5.2 grams of acidity, so a very elegant version of this Reserva Especial. Despite the three relatively warm vintages, the longer élevage has polished that power and produced a classic and proportioned wine, aromatic, spicy, with the typical Vega nose and a velvety palate with very fine tannins and great elegance. 97/100 Parker and 99/100 Suckling.
Spain's undisputed equivalent of a Premier Cru is Vega Sicilia. Since the planting of the first grape vines about a century and a half ago, the bodega has acquired an enormous reputation. Vega Sicilia is especially famous for the concentration, longevity and unique character of its wines. After the establishment of the designation of origin in 1982, Vega Sicilia is part of the DO Ribera del Duero.
The estate on the Duero River covers a thousand hectares. Of these, two hundred hectares are planted with grape vines. The majority is tinto fino, the local variant of tempranillo. But there are also vines with cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot and even albillo, a local white grape variety. The tinto fino and albillo grow in gobelet form, while the Bordeaux varieties are trained along iron wire in guyot.
Nine years ago, a small area was also planted with the grape varieties Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. It will be a while before we can see white Vega Sicilia: Vega only wants to release wine from older vines.
The soil in the area is highly calcareous with a sediment of clay and pebbles. There is a typical continental climate with warm days and, even in summer, cold nights. This is due to its location: seven hundred meters above sea level. Therefore, the grapes are only harvested very late in the season and have a lot of time to form aromas. The harvest is often only harvested in mid-November.
The history of Vega Sicilia dates back to 1864 with an unprecedented revolutionary step for the 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 these cuttings on his father's finca, just east of Valladolid. A long education in barrique and wooden foeders follows. Only in 1915 did the domain itself bottle the first Valbuena and Vega Sicilia.
Vega Sicilia establishes its reputation for good in 1929 at the World Exhibition in Barcelona. There, the years 1917 and 1918 receive an award. From that moment on, the company expanded its image to its current, almost legendary dimensions.
In 1982 a new era dawned with the acquisition of the domain by the current owner, the Alvarez family. The new owner immediately starts an extensive program of investments in the vineyards and cellars, without affecting the unique character of Vega. In that year the D.O. Ribera del Duera set. After the successful acquisition of Vega Sicilia, the Alvarez family is considering 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 various families, but has always preserved 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 Don Eloy Lecanda inherited this domain from his father on July 22, 1859, he decided to do something with it. In 1864 he goes to Bordeaux and buys 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 infatuation for many. After all, the domain mainly lived from cattle breeding, orchards and the sale and production of ceramics.
When the Lecanda family also got into financial difficulties, a new lender made its appearance: the Herrero family. 15 years later, Antonio Herrero Velázquez acquired the entire domain. In 1905, management of the domain came into the hands of Txomin Garramiola. This Basque actually worked for the Riojabodega Cosme Palacio. Since it was difficult for him to continue to supply wine to his customers in Bilbao due to the phyloxera - Bilbao was at that time the nerve center for Spanish wines, especially those of Rioja - he suggested to the sons of Antonio Herrero, who had been responsible since 1901 goods 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 Cosme Palacio customers were used to, i.e. Rioja style: long aging in wood and bottling when the orders arrived, not before. The domain then listened to the name Bodegas de Lecanda.
When the lease expired in 1915 and the domain was renamed Hijos de Antonio Herrero, the 3 brothers were able to convince Txomin to stay on. 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 compensate for the shortage of Rioja at Cosme Palacio. This meant the birth of Vega Sicilia Unico and Valbuena.
At that time, the Herrero family moved in the highest Spanish circles of aristocracy and industrialists. The bodega was a heavily loss-making activity, but the other revenues from the Finca had to close this gap. It was never his intention to make Vega Sicilia a wine that would be commercialized. After all, the wine was not for sale… and only served as 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 Herreros, they asked a price that was out of all proportion at the time. This is how the myth of the most expensive wine in Spain was slowly born.
The wine enjoyed great success throughout Europe in the 1920s. In 1933 Txomin dies 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 arrival of Jesús Anadón, who remained the administrator of the domain until its sale to the current owners.
The sale to the Alvarez family in 1982 was the best thing that could have happened 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 groups of companies. They realized that the thread of evolution had to be picked up and have invested in this field ever since. Pablo Alvarez heads the group Vega Sicilia.
Since 1998, Xavier Ausas has been head of the technical staff as an oenologist. Today Vega Sicilia is more alive than ever!
The entire domain covers 1000 ha. 250 ha of these are vineyards, divided among Tinto fino (200 ha), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. A meticulous system was introduced for viticulture whereby production can never exceed 22 hl/ha (max. 2 kg of grapes per stick). The grapes are never harvested below 13% alcohol. 2200 sticks per ha are planted. 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 opposite.
The whole area has a clay-limestone soil, with some mixed zones and part alluvial with sandy soils and boulders (from the domain towards the Duero). The climate is continental with Atlantic influences. Little precipitation (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 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, 8 to 20 hectoliters per hectare, depending on the year
- Very long aging in barrel
- Perfectionism in all aspects
|Type of Wine
|Castilla y Leon
|Ribera del Duero
|Icon Spain & Portugal
|Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo
|Drinking as of
|James Suckling rating
|Complex, Dry, Aged on wood, Powerful, Spicy, Red fruit, Tannines, Full
|Indruk maken, Lekker luxe, Open haard