Description

Bodegas Vega Sicilia is a Spanish winery located in the Ribera del Duero Denominación de Origen in the Province of Valladolid, Castile and León (northern Spain). The winery was founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who planted various grapes from the Bordeaux wine region of France, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are still being used in the wines today.

Since 1982, the same year that the Ribera del Duero was granted Denominación de Origen (DO) status, the winery has been owned by the Álvarez family who are members of the Primum Familiae Vini.

In comparing the wines of Spain to the First Growth wines of Bordeaux, wine expert Hugh Johnson, after comparing Rioja producers Marqués de Riscal and Marqués de Murrieta to Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Mouton Rothschild, respectively, stated: “Vega Sicilia is the Latour; but Latour of a vintage that has raisined the grapes and fried the picking crews.”—a reference to the significantly warmer climate and different growing conditions of the Ribera del Duero.

Vega Sicilia’s wines are recognised worldwide as some of the finest and most valued red wines on the market.

Vega Sicilia is noted for its patience in winemaking and willingness to hold onto their inventory and age their wines in the barrel and bottle for many years until it fits the style that the producers are looking for. Depending on the vintage, the wine could be held by Vega Sicilia for decades until it is released. For example, in 1991 the winery released both the 1968 and 1982 vintages after 23 and 9 years aging.

Tasting Notes

The 2018 Valbuena comes from a cooler vintage with good yields that required sorting and selecting in search of a happy and vertical version of Valbuena, pushing a little more and giving the wine a little more oak, especially American (5%). It was produced with 96% Tinto Fino and 4% Merlot that went through a three- to four-day cold soak and fermented with indigenous yeasts followed by malolactic in stainless steel. The élevage was in new and used 225-liter oak barrels and 21,000-liter oak vats. It has 14.5% alcohol and a pH of 3.8 and 4.78 grams of acidity (tartaric), so it’s ripe and with mellow acidity that gives it a mellow mouthfeel. This is a very spicy vintage for Valbuena, getting closer to the style of Único (while at the same time I felt the 2018 Pintia from Toro was getting closer to the aromatics of some vintages of Valbuena, like 2010). It was a late-ripening year with a tendency toward freshness in the wines. The palate is medium to full-bodied, with very fine tannins that made the wine nicely textured and very elegant. There is a lot of regularity in the Valbuena of the last few years, here with more tension and freshness of the 2017, a little more balsamic even. 180,580 bottles, 5,528 magnums and some larger formats produced. It was bottled in May 2021.

Vega Sicilia has increased the capacity to age wine in large oak vats to 75,000 liters and are making a detailed study of their non-saccharomyces yeasts. They are the most prestigious winery in Spain and one of the creators of the Ribera del Duero appellation. They work 210 hectares of vineyards in 55 separate plots and produce between 240,000 and 325,000 bottles, depending on the conditions of the vintage.

(96 points Luiz Gutierrez January 2023 robertparker.com)