Bodegas Benjamin Rothschild and Vega Sicilia Macan Clasico 2017
Macan Classico is the second wine in the Bordeaux sense, even though the name might be rather confusing and some people might think this is the superior cuvee. It’s clearly a more accessible wine than its sibling, and that’s intentional. Bright ruby-colored, with some red fruit and lactic notes complemented by licorice, spices, smoke, coffee, vanilla, balsamic, smoked meat, sweet fruit, and chocolate. Elegant and harmonious, it is medium-bodied with balanced acidity and good length. It’s quite approachable and pleasant to drink with some fine tannins.
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Selected as the more accessible sibling of Macán, this presents a supple, modern side of Rioja. It builds richness and power out of bloody, iron-bound tannins under sweeter notes of strawberry jam and blueberry pie. Generously oaked, it’s a wine that will take on beef Wellington.
MACAN is the name chosen for the wines, derived from a traditional name for the people of this sub-region of Rioja. Each year, they aim to produce two wines, MACAN and MACAN CLASICO, "a first and a second wine following the Bordeaux tradition of classification by tasting the different lots and bottling a first wine with more potential and a second wine more expressive and easy to drink when young." This is perhaps the most notable influence of the Rothschild family on the project, because otherwise all viticulture and winemaking is in the hands of the Vega Sicilia team.
The style of the wines is certainly not ‘traditional’ Rioja – after trials, they decided against American oak – but the style is not modern “alto espreccion” either. Perhaps the term Neo-Classical is most apt, with complex mineral-infused fruit and discreet oak influences, underpinned by a fine but firm structure. These are definitely “fine wines” in the grand European tradition, and sure to generate serious media, trade and consumer interest.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.