They have kept 2005 and 2006 for now, and they are releasing the 2007 Único from a lighter vintage that is accessible already; they will even sell 2008 before 2005 and 2006. 2007 was a cold vintage in Ribera and it produced lighter, fresher wines (perhaps not as problematic as 2008, but there was also frost in 2007). The wine might be a tad lighter than other vintages, but it's more structured than 2008; it combines elegance and power, is nicely balanced and should be able to develop in bottle for many years, although the quick evolution of the bottle once opened made me hesitate about its drinking window. Let's hope I'm wrong. 80,000 bottles produced. Drink 2015-2025.
A couple of weeks before my appointment at Vega Sicilia, the big news broke: Javier Ausás, long time technical director at the Vega Sicilia group (recently renamed Tempos Vega Sicilia, a name that is a little pompous if you ask me), was leaving. A few days before I went, his replacement was named: Gonzalo Iturriaga. Who? That's exactly what everyone thought too! Iturriaga is an agricultural engineer with some experience in Ribera, one year in the early days of Alonso del Yerro, and then five years in Extremadura in charge of the wines of Habla, an ambitious project in a southwestern zone of Spain off the beaten track that didn't really take off. He spent his last five years selling yeasts and other oenological products for the French company Lamothe-Abiet, a CV that a priori looks a little poor for someone who is taking over the most prestigious winery from Spain. But let's give him time -- it will take a few years until we see any of his wines in the market -- and hope for the best.
Other than that, they are releasing Único 2007 and 2008 before they sell 2005 and 2006, as the former are lighter vintages, and the latter are more powerful and require/benefit from some time in bottle. After tasting the wines, I followed the opened bottles and was a little worried to see that the wines showed plenty of oxidative aromas the day after, not what I expect for wines designed for a long and slow development in bottle.
Javier Ausás, chief winemaker of Vega-Sicilia, describes his 2007 Unico thus - 'it's not a wine, it's a miracle'! This is not far from the truth considering how challenging the 2007 vintage was in his beloved region of Ribera del Duero. You will know that great wineries make great wines in the most combative conditions - this is what sets them apart. Vega-Sicilia is Spain's greatest win and so I expected to taste a stunning wine at the launch of this iconic estate's new releases and I was not disappointed. Unico is undoubtedly a more forward proposition than other recent releases. This is usually the case in cooler, rainy years. But Vega still sports aromatic complexity that the Bordelais would kill for with exceptional detail and suave delivery. This is not a big wine but a mellow, long, profound Unico with calmness and control at its core. The tannins are powdery and fit and show no signs of closing down the wine, in fact they almost seem to urge it forwards. The fruit is typically noble and dark but there is no excess alcohol or brawn which can usually be detected in youthful Unico. In short, this is a wine for relatively early drinking, which will reward connoisseurs of this estate. It is also a wine to charm those of you who might not have encountered Vega-Sicilia before on account of its genial welcome and elegant composure. (2020 - 2030)
A very difficult year - 'this is not a wine, it's a miracle.' Plenty of developed, earthy aromas on the nose, charming red fruit and lovely coffee grounds - but there is indeed a (comparative) lack of body and concentration betraying a difficult vintage. Even so, those flavours are an absolute pleasure.