How do you explain the good fortune of being in the Fine Wine Source on a rainy afternoon and you are tasting and discussing wines with the owner and one of his employees? I mean I was not happy that there was a dearth of business for them, after all I am an old retailer at heart and I know what a day of rain can do. I was just enjoying the fact that I had the chance to enjoy the wines from Vega-Sicilia even after the event that they had with the regional sales manager.
Vega-Sicilia is considered by many to be the finest winemaker in Spain and they are based in Ribera del Duero and of course Tempranillo is king at the winery and all of Spain. They own about a thousand hectares in their domain and more than half is planted with vines and they go back to 1864. The Alvarez family purchased the estate in 1982 and those that have had a better chance to observe than I, have stated that the quality and the consistency has increased since the new owners have taken charge. Tempranillo accounts for about eighty percent of the grapes grown on the estate, but the also grow some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and some Malbec. The first two Spanish wines of theirs that I tasted were not estate grown.
The first of the Spanish wines that I tried was the Vega-Sicilia Bodegas de Rothschild Macan 2013. Macan is a Rioja estate created in 2009 as a joint-venture with the Compagnie Viticole Baron Edmond de Rothschild. It lies to the northeast of Samaniego and features a gravity-fed winery built over four levels. There has been French interest in the Rioja for years, but this wine with such a joint endeavor belies most of the wines from the region. Here is a wine that averages vines that are forty years old and is aged for fourteen months in French Oak and it is touted to be able to handle twenty years in the cellar. I found this wine to be an elegant Rioja wine delivering plenty of terroir, some pleasurable heat and a very long finish. Considering that I have been drinking wines from the Rioja with vintages going back to the Fifties, this was totally an eye opener and made me really want some more. The second of the Spanish wines that I tasted was the Vega-Sicilia Bodegas y Vinedos Alion, Ribera del Duero 2011 and this wine they consider is made for an earlier consumption. This wine has come from thirty-year-old vines and has been aged in only new French Oak for the average of fifteen months and then another fifteen months in the bottle, before it is sold. Here was another big wine and from the nose and the first taste I picked up dill, which surprised me, but not in an unpleasant manner and then I also enjoyed another healthy helping of terroir. Considering that they think this is a wine to be consumed in its youthful age, I was surprised at the amount of complexity and a long finish, that I thought this wine could easily do twenty years in the cellar, but then maybe it is because I have a cellar and I have been known to put wine away and try to forget it for some time. Here I was enjoying two great wines and I still hadn’t had a chance to try their “flagships” and more to come.