Bodegas Vega Sicilia _ 2009 - Unico _ 750 ml.
Spain - Castilla y Leon - Ribera del Duero
Red - Vintage: 2009 - Size: 750 ml.
The foundations of Vega Sicilia's traditions may be found as far back as 1859, when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves was gifted an estate by his wealthy father. The origins of the Vega Sicilia winery are officially regarded as 1864, which was when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves returned from his travels in Bordeaux with vine cuttings, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Carmenere - all of which were found in Bordeaux at that time - and, curiously, some Pinot Noir. Regardless of how Pinot Noir arrived, the cuttings were duly propagated and planted at Vega Sicilia, although the Carmenere and Pinot Noir are no longer found in the Vega Sicilia vineyards. Vega Sicilia's Tempranillo is trained in gobelet fashion, whereas the French varieties are trained in a Guyot system. Green harvesting is employed ruthlessly in order to control yields, and the harvest itself is meticulous. In the winery, such a massive wine will withstand many years in wood and Unico sees a complicated series of rackings from huge barrels to new oak, to used American oak, back to new oak again, and on it goes. Whatever these phases are called, Unico certainly receives very prolonged barrel ageing, with the 1970 seeing over sixteen years! And yet these are not washed out, stretched, overly oaky wines when mature, testimony to the quality of the raw materials on which they are based.
I tasted a bottle of the 2009 Unico blind and was taken by the freshness, the red fruit notes and the Burgundian-like characteristics of this vintage, which on paper was quite warm and dry. I also tasted the 2009 Valbuena, which is always more approachable, and was blown away by its aromatics. With time in the glass the Unico opened up and got closer to the character of Valbuena but with more depth and clout, while showing extremely elegant. I tasted it again in the context of all the wines from the group, and it delivered all that I saw when I tasted it blind. It takes some time to unfurl its aromatic palette, and it feels young and somewhat undeveloped, younger than it is. It has a touch that made me think of the old vintages of Unico on the nose but with very polished tannins and a soft mouthfeel that provides elegance. This is a wine that ages for no less than ten years before it's released. 2009 seems like a great vintage for Vega Sicilia, much better than what I anticipated. It should develop nicely in bottle. 74,274 bottles, 3,390 magnums, 209 double magnums and 22 imperials were produced. It has been in bottle since June 2015.
James Suckling: 98
The elevage is complex, building from smaller barrels to larger barrels over a period of six years, finishing in larger vats. Then four years in bottle. Non-sequential releasing with the 2005 and 2006 being released after the 2007 and 2008. This 2009 has good ripeness and deep fruit-presence on the nose with rich red and dark plums, subtly earthy spice, cedar and fresh tobacco. There's terrific concentration on the palate and very ripe dark-plum, blueberry and cherry flavors. The tannins are fresh, very long and carry flavors deep. Natural freshness and effortless power, too - a hallmark of Unico! Very open-knit and approachable now, this will age for two decades easily, and then some more.
Wine Spectator: 95
This red is rich yet vibrant, dense yet graceful. Cherry and plum flavors are backed by forest floor, cedar, tobacco and mineral notes, supported by muscular, well-integrated tannins that give way to a spicy, slightly bitter finish. Complex and harmonious. Tinto Fino and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2029. 6,190 cases made, 570 cases imported.