Vega Sicilia Wines: Fit For A Royal Affair
The company Tempos Vega Sicilia was founded in 1982 with the purchase by the Álvarez family of the said winery that was originally established in 1864. Its acquisition by the Álvarez family has managed to convert Vega Sicilia into one of the leading international wineries today and the most prestigious in Spain. Vega Sicilia is on the of the eleven members of the Primum Familiæ Vini, which is composed of family-owned wineries representing the top echelon winemakers of their respective regions. It achieved its high reputation for selling the most expensive and highest quality wines in Spain, not to mention being the first one to plant vines in the Ribera del Duero region.
"Morally speaking, you cannot live off a demand based on historical prestige without offering something more," Tempos Vega Sicilia Chief Executive Officer Pablo Álvarez once said. Indeed, the Álvarez family continues to modernise and expand, resulting to its purchase of new estates: Bodegas Alion in 1992, Bodegas Pintia (in Toro) in 2001, and Tokaj Oremus in Hungary, founded in 1993.
Happy Living Philippines Corporation's General Manager Julian Gagliardi, together with Terry Selection headed by the chef Juan Carlos de Terry organised a special luncheon, masterclas, and dinner featuring the best of Vega Sicilia as its General Manager for Sales and Marketing Antonio Menéndez visits Manila recently. In the masterclass held at the beautiful Italian restaurant La Piazza in Okada Manila, Gagliardi and Menéndez took guests on a sensory journey to Vega Sicilia's four premier wineries with its six exquisite wines.
As the oldest Designation of Origin in Spain, Rioja has wrought its legendary history over centuries. Wholly made using the Tempranillo variety, Macán and Macán Clasico are the joint vision that two great names of the wine world—Rothschild and Vega Sicilia—have of La Rioja. It was a project of the two families that began in 2004. The name "Macán" is derived from the term used to call the locals of the sub-region. They are very elegant wines, where the harmony of their aromas and flavours show the authenticity of the land from where they come and its capacity to produce great wines. Indeed, the project focused effectively on the best terroirs, with stony calcerous clay soils, complex mesoclimatic influences, and deep-rooted Tempranillo vines. Having both labels is due to the desire to preserve the Bordeaux tradition to produce a "first" and "second" wine. In this tradition, the "first" wine is produced from lots that show more potential, while the "second" wine is more expressive and easy to drink when young. Macán wines are aged in French oak for three and a half years, which styles the wine with complex mineral-infused fruit and discreet oak influences, underpinned a fine but firm structure.
This young, massive Rioja 2013 smells of raspberry, plum, char, and tar. The mouthfeel is chunky, rich and deep, with manageable tannins. Flavours of blackberry, mocha, char, clove, and chocolate announce generous oak, while the finish is spicy, peppery, toasty, and ripe.
In Padilla de Duero stands Alión, a winery that has demonstrated an independence worthy of the great wines. A wine with an attractive, modern design, reflecting the intrinsic expression of a Tinto Fino and the character of the Ribera del Duero. After 14 to 20 months of ageing in barrels, it remain no less than 15 months in the stillness of the bottle, where it assemble all the primary aromas of the fruit with the hues from its delicate ageing. This results in an intense, complex, and fleshy wine, but where the elegance is a distinguishing feature and hallmark of the winery.
Alión 2014 is an intense, complex, full-bodied wine where elegance plays a differentiating role being the winery's sign of identity. It is of deep ruby red colour with purple reflections. It has a powerful structure, concentrated dense taste with soft tannins, creamy notes of oak and ripe fruit. The aroma is intense and spicy, with full of fruit and hints of wood nuances. Its modern, genuine, and multicultural character makes it easy to pair. It also has the potential of 15 to 20 years.
The wine producing tradition in the district of Toro harks back to pre-Roman times. When Vega Sicilia came to establish a new estate, this region was far from fashionable in wine terms but shared important qualities: a great winemaking tradition, and tremendous potential to produce high-quality wines. Pintia is broad, very clean, expressive and elegant, with a great fruit intensity cocooned in a subtle way and of great quality.
Pintia is wonderful in 2013. It was a lighter vintage in general but this has really brought out the elegance of this wine, so often swathed in structure and tannins. There is a gentle touch of ripe blueberry alongside ripe raspberry on the nose, yet the core of the wine is rich and dark.
Valbuena 5° Año
Valbuena 5° Año provides us with a direct and understandable view of the greatness of the terroir, presenting the purest expression of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo variety grown in Vega Sicilia). Made from younger vines in most years, though in years when Único is not produced, grapes normally destined for Único will go into Valbuena. It is released only after 5 years of ageing.
This wine is a blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. It is inky ruby in colour, with sexy, high-pitched dark berry and floral pastille aromas complemented by oak spices and smoky minerals. Surprisingly light touch on the palate, sharply focused blackberry, bitter cherry, licorice candy, and floral pastille flavours that deepen and become sweeter with air. With its freshness even after 8 years, it is strong to assume that it will remain fresh on its 15th year—a signature mark of a Vega Sicilia wine.
Vega Sicilia Único
With every vintage Único, that is Vega Sicilia's flagship wine, the estate remain true to a clear and well-defined style. Produced only in good years and released after a minimum of 10 years ageing, its unique and timeless taste has elevated it to among the aristocracy of the great classic wines.
The extra time in this bottle of Único 2005 has helped the wine to develop its bouquet, and it feels very aromatic and open. Earthy, leafy, and spicy, with the classical Vega Sicilia perfume of yesteryear. It's still powerful, but at the same time it's elegant and has a polished mouthfeel and fine-grained tannins.
The town of Tokaj, the main town of the region that produces Hungary's famed Tokaj wines, lies on the banks of the Bodrog river at the foot of the last of the spurs to the Zemplén mountains. Oremus's vineyards and cellars are in Tolcsva, one of the best-known villages in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region; back in 1772, when the first classification of wines was established, this was already recognised as a "primæ classis". Oremus's Aszú wine (which means "wine of tears") is a meticulous process, only possible in good vintages when conditions are perfect for noble rot (Botrytis cinerea). As it has been for hundreds of years, 3, 4, 5, or 6 25-kg panniers (puttony) of Aszú noble berries are added to the must.
This vintage made with three 25-kg puttonyos of furmint grapes has yielded a more elegant and floral interpretation of this Tokaji Aszú wine. The nose has notes of orange blossom and peach, interspersed with honeysuckle and acacia. The palate is beautifully poised with the trademark acidity acting as counterpoint to the noble-rot sweetness. The long finish is fresh and vibrant.
On its label, it says "Vinum Regum Rex Vinorum" which translates to: wine of the kings, king of the wines. This royal seal was because Tokaj wines are bespoken by Louis XV and served only for kings and czars during the 16th century. Eventually it was turned to the hands of the Polish until the 17th century, then the Greek wine-merchants between 18th and mid-19th century, and finally to the Jews until the outbreak of World War II. Somehow the tradition got lost until foreign investors revived it in the 1980s.
Vega Sicilia wines are distributed in the Philippines by Terry Selection, which is represented by Happy Living Philippines Corporation
- Words (Additional) Julian Gagliardi
- Photography Franz Sorilla IV