Earlier this month I was a guest at the Salón de Gourmets Fair in Madrid, where Vega Sicilia’s technical director of winemaking, Gonzalo Iturriaga, showed Vega Sicilia’s new releases from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
These ‘new’ releases seem something of a misnomer, given that the youngest Único on sale is now the 2009, 10 years old already.
Vega Sicilia new releases rated (plus some older gems):
About Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia, founded in 1864, built a global profile for the Ribera del Duero region decades before the creation of the denomination in 1982. That same year current owners, the Alvarez family, purchased the property. The Tempos Vega Sicilia group produces around one-million bottles a year.
Ribera del Duero is renowned for its reds from Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), but Vega Sicilia’s founder also introduced Bordeaux varieties. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot still play a part in the wines, along with a certain Bordelais approach to winemaking.
What Sarah Jane Evans said about last year’s releases:
‘Evolution not revolution’ is the mantra at Vega Sicilia. There were promising signs of the implementation of the gradual development across the wines at the first international launch of the Vega Sicilia new releases for 2018.
Reserva Especial, the traditional NV blend across three vintages, was the star. It makes the case for blending being more than just the sum of the parts.
The new winery at Vega Sicilia opened in 2010, so the Reserva Especial does not yet reflect the changes to the technology.
Technical director Gonzalo Iturriaga joined in September 2015, and is working on a number of fronts.
‘For instance, with Valbuena we’re looking at going back to stainless steel for the second year, after that important first year in oak. We are trialling a number of different coopers. We are also playing with the size of the vats. In the future we are working more with the concrete; and with Alion we are starting to bring in a little American oak. Overall our work is moving from wood to velvety tannins.’
The tasting certainly revealed brighter wines, moderated oak, less tough tannin. The subtle changes don’t alter the signature of the wines, but they do provide freshness, and some more fruit. This work has been echoed in Rioja, where the focus has been on suiting the appropriate oak and winemaking to Tempranillo.