Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva Tinto 2002
Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
Vega Sicilia Unico comes from the older vines on the estate and is made with the varieties of Tempranillo and more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot. Although it is old, the red wine maintains its liveliness thanks to its good acidity level compensated by solid alcohol content. It has an intense ripe cherry color, with the lively edge of a wine that is always at its best. The aroma prevails with hints of roast from the wood, and touches of hazelnut from its oxidative evolution from its years in the cask. It has generous tastes of old but clean wood, with dry tannins that are pleasantly embittered by the oak, together with the sensation of its light sweetness of its alcohol. It is a pedigree wine with a long, lasting taste.
The Wine Advocate - "Having skipped over releasing a 2001 due to frost damage, the 2002 Unico is a result of a severe selection as attested by the label which shows that just 42,932 bottles were produced instead of 108,536 in 2000. It has an incredibly intense nose, much more linear and focused than the more flamboyant 2000, with scents of dark cherry, creme de cassis and a touch of honey and melted dark chocolate. The palate is medium-bodied with a slight grainy texture on the entry, a hint of cooked meat inflecting the layers of toasty dark berry fruit. It is very harmonious and perhaps at this juncture, edgier and grittier than the millennial Unico. It is less opulent and more structured than the 2000, but is a more cerebral wine. Drink 2020-2040+."
Wine & Spirits - "A selection of tinto fino from vines over 40 years old (some close to 90) blended with a small percentage of cabernet and merlot, this red comes from a careful selection of grapes in a very rainy harvest. And the results are brilliant. Here the aromas of chocolate and sweet spice blend with scents of black cherries and nuts; the wine is vibrant in acidity, but also powerful and sweet, like oranges dipped in chocolate."
Wine Spectator - "Maturing now, this polished red offers cherry, herbal, tobacco and menthol flavors over firm, well-integrated tannins, with a long cedar and floral finish. Graceful and harmonious."
International Wine Cellar - "Light yellow. Pit and orchard fruits on the highly fragrant nose and palate. At once fleshy and focused, with very good cut and an undercurrent of chalky minerality. Closes firm and long, with resonating spiciness and a refreshing note of bitter quinine. This wine should be even better in a few months, or even a year."
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Bodegas Vega Sicilia Winery
The foundations of Vega Sicilia's traditions may be found as far back as 1859, when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves was gifted an estate by his wealthy father. The origins of the Vega Sicilia winery are officially regarded as 1864, which was when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves returned from his travels in Bordeaux with vine cuttings, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Carmenere - all of which were found in Bordeaux at that time - and, curiously, some Pinot Noir. Regardless of how Pinot Noir arrived, the cuttings were duly propagated and planted at Vega Sicilia, although the Carmenere and Pinot Noir are no longer found in the Vega Sicilia vineyards.
Vega Sicilia's Tempranillo is trained in gobelet fashion, whereas the French varieties are trained in a Guyot system. Green harvesting is employed ruthlessly in order to control yields, and the harvest itself is meticulous. In the winery, such a massive wine will withstand many years in wood and Unico sees a complicated series of rackings from huge barrels to new oak, to used American oak, back to new oak again, and on it goes. Whatever these phases are called, Unico certainly receives very prolonged barrel ageing, with the 1970 seeing over sixteen years! And yet these are not washed out, stretched, overly oaky wines when mature, testimony to the quality of the raw materials on which they are based.
-Chris Kissack, The Winedoctor View all Bodegas Vega Sicilia Wines
About Ribera del DueroView a map of Ribera del Duero wineries (rib-EHR-ah del dwehr-oh)
Notable FactsThe wines of Ribera del Duero are mainly red – white wines here are not exported or revered. The reds come primarily from a variation of Tempranillo, called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais in this region. Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon are also used, but not so often. The best wines of the area are refreshing yet sturdy and complex, with an ability to age and mature gracefully.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.