Vega Sicilia is to Ribera del Duero what Romanée-Conti is to Burgundy and Petrus is to Bordeaux: a unique myth, and at the same time a “locomotive” for the rest of its original vineyard.
The history of the Vega Sicilia estate does not go back to the Romans or the Middle Ages. It was in 1864 when Eloy Lecanda founded the estate that still embodies the excellence of Spanish wine. So determined to imitate the grands vins of the Médoc, he planted mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Carménère. But it was above all in 1904 when Domingo Garramiola, a key figure in the history of Vega Sicilia, began to apply the Bordeaux techniques for making and maturing wine. This work bore fruit in 1915 when the estate’s two legendary wines were born: Vega Sicilia and Valbuena.
The new owners, the Herrero family, decided to reserve their wine for an exceptional audience: their friends. This is how the bottles of Vega Sicilia began to circulaire among the upper bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. The unique condition: to be a close friend of the Blacksmiths. The legend of the most exclusive wine in Spain is born, since it is not acquired for money, but for friendship.
After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the winery went through a rough patch that lasted several decades. But in 1982 a new impetus was given with the arrival of the Álvarez family and their investment in the vineyards, under the authority of the oenologist Mariano García. Since then, this family of businessmen has launched parallel projects in Hungary (Tokaj), and in other wine-producing areas of the province of Valladolid (Toro and Peñafiel).
On this 1,000-hectare estate, which rises up to 700 meters above the Douro River, there are 210 hectares devoted to vineyards. Today, Bordeaux varieties have become complements (20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec), and Tempranillo has regained its rights (80%). The climate is continental, with Atlantic influence. The farm enjoys little rainfall, a lot of sun and the Duero river provides morning mists that maintain a certain humidity.
Vega Sicilia wines are known for their long, very long maturation… They spend at least two or three years in new barrels, then move a few more years to older oak barrels, before resting in the bottle for, sometimes , four years. Therefore, in general, a Vega Sicilia will not reach the taste buds of its lucky buyer… until at least ten years after harvest.
The result on the palate is unique: aromas of candied fruit, spicy notes, unparalleled tannic smoothness, where Ribera del Duero tends to stand out for its power.
If you ever decide to travel through Spain’s wine country, Vega Sicilia is a must-see. Unlike many French castles that remain closed to the public, Vega Sicilia welcomes visitors on guided “cellar” tours at all times. It retains its Castilian features, with its brick façade, and its interior includes a chapel built by the original owners. As for the facilities, their romantic and ancestral appearance has been replaced by pneumatic and stainless steel presses, in order to maintain the level of quality required for the wines.
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