The 2011 Valbuena was fermented plot by plot, something they started after a deep soil study in the 2010 vintage. 2011 was a very warm and ripe vintage in the zone, and the challenge was to keep the freshness. There are more black fruit aromas, subtle spices and hints of complexity, as well as tertiary aromas that are quite classic and turn more balsamic with time in the glass. Again, this is very different form the 2012 Alión, rounder, riper, richer, more polished, mellow, soft, quite exuberant and hedonistic. 170,000 bottles produced.
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.