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Vega Sicilia

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To lovers of Spanish wines, Vega Sicilia needs no introduction. The 100 hectares estate is by far the most prestigious wine producer in Spain, ranking with the world's greatest names. The property is located 100 miles north of Madrid in the shallow Duero (Douro) river valley on the high remote plateau of Castilla Léon. The altitude is some 700 meters above sea level, creating a unique climate; the cold nights and hot days during the crucial ripening period in September largely contribute to the uniqueness of Vega Sicilia. In a good vintage only about 20,000 cases of wine are made and subsequently sold on a strict allocation basis. World wide demand is at least 4 times the quantity available. The grape varieties, 60% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot completed with some Malbec, are from very old vines ... for the Valbuena, at least 20 to 25 years old and the Unico over 50 years old ... with some at 80 years old. The aging process is unique with long maturation in cask and bottle. The Valbuena is released after 5 years (3 years in cask and 2 years in bottle). The Unico is always at least 10 years old and sometimes as much as 25 years old before release, depending on the quality of the vintage and its capacity to age for long periods in cask and bottle. The wines are truly remarkable with enormous complexity, and richness. The soft velvety texture, gorgeous mature flavours of black fruit, leather and oak are absolutely unique. Where in the world does one find a wine that is released in tiny quantities after 20 years of aging? Vega Sicilia's "traditional" method of aging and bottling wines grew out of necessity. At the beginning of the 20th century, wine was only left in the cask because it was only bottled just before delivery to the customer. The Tempranillo (aka Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais) grape, which forms the base of all Vega Sicilia's wines is particularly resistant to oxidation. Therefore, seven years aging in wood (for "Unico"), an amount of time that would destroy any other wine, only serves to soften and add complexity to Vega Sicilia's wines. One year after harvest, the wine moves from big wooden vats to spend two years in an almost new cask, with four rackings in the first year and two in the second. Subsequently, it spends a year in older casks with one racking and for the remaining three years it will lie in old casks and be decanted every ten months. For Valbuena, during the three years of aging in cask the wine is rotated from a new cask to a cask which is always more used than the previous one. The whole of this "trip" from cask to cask over a long period avoids violent filtrations and facilitates a final clarification. It ends its wanderings with a peaceful two-year repose in the bottle before being released for sale. This long and effusive coutship between wine and wood is made against the background of the impeccable cleanliness of the old casks. Vega Sicilia has a cooper's workshop not only for repairs and reconditioning, but also for making new cask with wood which has been dried for three years in the outside courtyard The vineyards consist of 65% tinto fino (tempranillo), 15% cabernet sauvignon and the rest shared amongst merlot, malbec and albillo. It is a quite extraordinary vineyard with yields not exceeding 32 hectoliters per acre. The bunches of grapes are controlled as in the best areas of Bordeaux, with the benefit of an alluvial soil, typical of river basins, the best type of terrain for cultivating quality vines.

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