- JANCIS ROBINSON OXFORD COMPANION: „Vega Sicilia, concentrated and long-lived red wine that is Spain’s undisputed equivalent of a first growth, made on a single property now incorporated into the Ribera del Duero denomination. The wine was being made long before the present do region took shape in the 1980s. This 1,000-ha/2,500-acre farm either side of the main road east of Valladolid has been making wine in its present form since 1864 when Eloy Lacanda y Chaves planted vines from Bordeaux alongside Tinto Fino, also known as Tinta del País (a local strain of tempranillo). The current style was defined around 1910, when the winery was leased by Cosme Palacio, a Rioja grower. A succession of different owners has since managed to maintain the quality and reputation of Vega Sicilia as Spain’s finest red wine. However, Vega Sicilia fell on lean times at several junctures, and was able to make a substantial leap in quality and, more importantly, in consistency after being bought by the Alvarez family in 1982.
The more than 200 ha/500 acres of vineyard on limestone soils overlooking the River Duero (Douro in Portugal) are planted mainly with Tinto Fino but Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a little Malbec together make up about 20% of the total production. A tiny quantity of old-vine white Albillo remains.
Bodegas Vega Sicilia produces three wines, all red. Valbuena is a five-year old vintage-dated wine aged in American oak. Vega Sicilia Unico, which is restricted to the best vintages and is often released after spending about ten years in a combination of wooden tanks, small, new barriques, large, old barrels and bottles, attracts the most attention. The best vintages of Vega Sicilia Unico and the third wine produced here, the rare multi-vintage Reserva Especial, last for decades.
In 1991, Bodegas Vega Sicilia acquired the nearby Liceo winery and created the immediately acclaimed Bodegas Alión, which makes much more modern reds from 100% Tempranillo grapes, aged in new French oak. In 2001, Pintia, Vega Sicilia’s bodega in the Toro region, produced its first vintage. Then, in a joint venture with Benjamin de Rothschild, Vega Sicilia created the Macán estate in Rioja. As the bodega celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014, tensions between different members of the Álvarez family who accquired it in 1982 were widely publicized.“