Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial
Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
This wine has no vintage, as it blends harvests, and is representative of the more stable concept of Vega Sicilia. With this wine, the winery seeks to continue a very old Spanish custom and bring together the balance of different vintages.
Traditionally in Spain, the few wineries that bottled their wines (most sold their wines from the cask) made two types of wine with each harvest: that of the current year, and another wine without a specific harvest, which was called "Reserva Especial". It was a blend of wines from the best harvests, which came to be the most representative wine of the winery.
The Wine Advocate - "The 2011 Release of the Unico Reserva Especial is a blend of vintages 1991, 1994, and 1998. It is a rich, spicy, and complex wine with impeccable balance and another 20 years of life. It simply does not get any better. When you consider that the Reserva Especial sells for less than half the price of a Bordeaux First Growth (and you don’t have to wait for 20 years for it to be approachable) it is one of the great bargains in world-class wine."
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