Bodegas Vega Sicilia Valbuena 2009
Other Red Blends from Ribera del Duero, Spain
The Valbuena red has aged for less time than the Vega Sicilia Único. It is a wine that comes from the younger vines and, it is mostly made with the varieties of tempranillo and more merlot than cabernet sauvignon. It has the garnet cherry red color of its older brother, with orange undertones, the ethereal expression of its alcohol content and the accent of an excellent oxidative evolution, which is the fruit of oak that has been well tanned, which is a characteristic of the company's red wines. Its personality is reminiscent of the varieties used, with a hint of ripe red fruit. In the mouth, it has less structure than the Vega Sicilia Único, but holds the complexity of the wine-fruit association.
The Wine Advocate - "The 2009 Valbuena was harvested early, the result of a warm summer. It’s mostly Tempranillo complemented with 5% Merlot. The wine matured for five months in 20,000-liter oak vats, 16 months in new barriques (equal parts French and American oak), four months in used barrels and then four more months in the vats before being bottled in May 2011. 180,000 bottles produced. It has some reductive notes and would benefit from some time in a decanter, where you’d start appreciating its background of cherries which feels very classical and serious. The palate is well-built, with polished tannins, very good acidity and freshness with elegance and fine tannins. Mature and with good typicity."
International Wine Cellar - "Opaque ruby. Spice- and mineral-accented aromas of dark berries, cherry pit and potpourri, with a toasty topnote. Minerally, incisive and sweet on the palate, offering smoky cherry and blackcurrant flavors complicated by vanilla, mocha and licorice. Shows impressive power and vivacity on the youthfully tannic finish, with the smoke and spice notes strongly repeating."
Wine Spectator - "Tobacco, cedar and sanguine notes mingle with dried cherry, spice and orange peel flavors in this firm red. The floral finish blooms pleasantly, showing harmony and depth. A traditional style."
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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.