Grapevine Archive for Vega Sicilia
First let?s put Vega Sicilia into context. Ribera del Duero, a few hours drive north of Madrid, is a region built on its reputation for red wines yet ironically it is a very difficult place to grow grapes. Frost is a risk until June and not uncommon in September, summer can be fiercely hot, hail is a constant threat and the growing season quite compressed. This means that quality can vary enormously, depending on the vintage conditions and producer.
So how has Vega Sicilia?s quality been so consistent? This was my question to Pablo during my first visit to the property a few years ago. ?The answer is simple,? he responded proudly: ?lots of hard work in the vineyard.? They employ 50 people all year just to manage the vines, yields are kept very low, selection is severe in difficult years and in very difficult years no Ùnico is produced (such as 2001 and 1971). Furthermore, the vineyards span 19 different soil types and the winery has 57 fermentation tanks, which enables winemaker Xavier Ausás to micro-vinify the 57 plots identified within their vineyards. This is winemaking at its most regal.
Here are my edited notes (with scores out of 20) from all 26 vintages.
Exuberant, powerful and layered with fruit. A hot vintage, resulting in an atypical Ùnico, but nevertheless will bring pleasureable drinking. 17.5+
Beautifully structured, immensely pure, with a refreshing line of acidity.Outstanding. Hold until at least 2016. 19.5+
A tricky vintage, 40% of fruit discarded, yet one of my favourite wines. Not a blockbuster but delicious for its Claret-like fragrance, finesse & vitality. 18
A very late harvest (November) due to rain. Cedary nose, a touch herbaceous, palate surprisingly good, succulent, lively, firm. A difficult wine to understand. 16
Wonderful bouquet, tobacco, cedar, very fine persistent fruit, opulent texture, backed by ripe velvety tannins.An exceptional & truly great wine. 20
Wow, am I dreaming! Real lift & precision here, punchy, long and very intense. 19+
Ùnico, 1990 (in magnum)
Widely proclaimed vintage, this has lovely savoury complexity, substantial palate, muscular grainy tannins and power. 19
I adored the style of the 1987: pretty, refreshing, and very harmonious with crisp acidity and integrated tannins. Perfect now; I want to drink this. 17
Evolved nose, a hint of stewed fruit, palate fresher. At an awkward stage? 15
Serious, highly complex nose, fine, almost Burgundian delicacy, silky tannins. At its peak. 19
Tertiary aromas, dank, muscular palate, drying out. 14
Meaty, savoury nose, round, austere palate, incredibly fresh for a 30+ year-old wine. 15
Potent, spicy and scented, wonderful backbone of acidity, supple, juicy fruit. Real charm here. 18
Excellent bouquet, leather, mocha complexity, beautiful structure, punchy tannins supported by long, rich finish. 18.5
Unusual nose, flat, closed aroma, palate surprisingly vibrant, some sweet fruit. A mesmerising wine, confusing to taste. 15.5?
Refined, elegant and poised, perfectly integrated and delicious. 18.5
Similar elegant style to the 1969. Rounder, riper, quince-like fruit, tobacco too. Very good. 18.5+
Combining muscle with finesse, an extraordinary Ùnico. Velvety, fine and complete. 18.5+
A sensational wine. Exotic, earthy quality, opulent, broad, superbly structured, very very long. 19.5
Restrained, mineral nose, compact palate, lively fruit, fine tannins, real harmony. 17.5+
Mellow, harmonious, developed fruit, still fresh, very alluring. 16
Vigourous, dense fruit, generous, smooth, impressive. 18
Funky, oxidative character, palate harmonious & refreshing. 16.5
Surprising pale amber colour (was this ever a red wine?). Tangy, salty palate, really lively, full of flavour, tastes weirdly like a very good dry Madeira.
Tawny colour, oxidised fruit, sadly past its best. No score.