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Flat front label of wine

Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico Tinto 2003

Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
  • RP94
  • WS94
  • WE91
14% ABV
  • RP96
  • WS94
  • RP95
  • WS94
  • WE92
  • JS100
  • RP98
  • W&S97
  • WE96
  • WS94
  • V97
  • W&S96
  • RP96
  • WS95
  • JS94
  • WE98
  • RP97
  • WS94
  • RP95
  • W&S94
  • WS93
  • RP93
  • WS92
  • JS97
  • WS94
  • RP92
  • RP98
  • RP96
  • WS92
  • RP95
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14% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Everyone finds their own way of describing Unico...the complexity on the nose, the extraordinary harmony and persistence of the bouquet, the elegant attack, building in the mouth to reveal the concentration and grace of one of the world's truly great wines.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Vega Sicilia's 2003 Unico, mainly Tempranillo with a balancing 8% of Cabernet Sauvignon, was aged in wood for nearly seven years before being bottled, starting with 15 months in large oak vats, followed by 25 months in new barriques, before being transferred to used ones for another 17 months and ending its elevage with a further 22 months in those large wood vats again. As I uncork the bottle, the aroma reminds me of a classical Tempranillo, with some dill notes from the American oak and a minty hint from the Cabernet. It actually makes me think of traditional Rioja, believe it or not. The wine doesn't show the heat of the vintage, and manages to transmit a general sensation of balance and finesse that is quite remarkable for the characteristics of the year. The aim here was to avoid the confited and raisiny notes of the fruit and the spirity character so common in that vintage. It starts off slightly lactic, with notes of cafe au lait, coconut and cola. With a bit of time, it turns more flowery and shows more red fruit. It is very aromatic, with plenty dry herbs, thyme and rosemary, even pine nuts, a bit of resin and some cured meat, and overall has a very complex nose. The mouth is a little more transparent toward the heat of the vintage, it is powerful and full-bodied, but manages to keep freshness. The minty note is there, with some hints of chalk that make it very tasty. It feels briary and opulent. A success over the vintage conditions, it already shows some signs of complexity, which points at an approachable Unico.
WS 94
Wine Spectator
This red is generous and expressive, delivering dried cherry, tobacco, mineral and spice flavors in a rich, round texture, with a good balance of well-integrated tannins and racy acidity. More harmonious than assertive, but shows plenty of depth. Drink now through 2023.
WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
Hailing from the hottest vintage in years, this is round, rubbery and showing sweet, rooty aromas of root beer, cola, mocha and stewed plum. Dense but soft, it has rubbery, savory flavors of barbecue sauce, herbal plum, tomato and carob. An earthy, loamy, chunky finish offers tobacco and baking spice accents. Drink through 2020.
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Bodegas Vega Sicilia

Bodegas Vega Sicilia

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Bodegas Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero, Spain
Image of 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

Ribera del Duero

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Ribera del Duero is located in northen Spain’s Castilla y León region, just a 2-hour drive from Madrid. While winemaking in this area goes back more than 2000 years, it was in the 1980s that 9 wineries applied for and were granted Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status. Today, more than 300 wineries call Ribera del Duero home, including some of Spain’s most iconic names.

Notable Facts Ribera’s main grape variety, Tempranillo, locally know as Tinto Fino, is perfectly suited to the extreme climate of the region, where it must survive scorching summers and frigid winters. Low yields resulting from conscientious tending to old vines planted in Ribera’s diverse soils types, give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity not found in other Tempranillos. Rich and full-bodied, the spice, dark fruit and smoky flavors in a bold Ribera del Duero will pair well with roasted and grilled meats, Mexican food and tomato-based sauces.

Tempranillo

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Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.

In the Glass

Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.

Perfect Pairings

Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.

Sommelier Secret

The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.

FBR110059_2003 Item# 126111