Owner: Álvarez family
Vineyard area: 250 hectares
Standard blend: 80% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Other wines: Valbuena 5º, Reserva Especial
In 1848 a Basque landowner named Toribio Lecanda bought a 2,000 hectare estate in northern Spain used for agriculture and cattle farming. Sixteen years later his son Eloy planted various grapes from Bordeaux, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot, in order to make brandy. In 1876 he became the supplier to the Royal family.
The estate had several owners over the next few decades until it was acquired by the Herrero family, who took on Domingo Garramiola Txomin as winemaker. Domingo used what were then considered revolutionary Bordeaux techniques for making wine, and he renewed the ageing casks and cleaned the wine presses. In 1915, Vega Sicilia and another wine, Valbuena, were born. Originally the wines were only distributed among the upper classes and the aristocracy, but at the 1929 World Fair in Barcelona they received public recognition, with awards to the 1917 and 1918 vintages.
After Domingo died in 1933 the responsibility of winemaking first fell on Martiniano Renedo and then Jesús Anadón. The current stage of Vega Sicilia Unico’s history began in 1982, when the Álvarez Mezquíriz family acquired the estate. They extended the vineyard area and modernised the winery. After Jesús Anadón retired, eminent winemaker Mariano García took over the oenology, but left in 1998 to expand his own portfolio of wines.
In the current team, Pablo Álvarez manages the winery and Xavier Ausás is the winemaker.
Vega Sicilia Unico 2004
Vega Sicilia Unico is the only wine from Spain in the Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 index. It falls into the ROW 50 sub-index, which has had the best sub-index performance over the last two years, rising 16.5%. Vega Sicilia Unico 1995 has been one of the biggest risers in the Liv-ex 1000 during this period, climbing 37%.
The latest Vega Sicilia Unico to be released is the 2004, described by Pablo Álvarez as a ‘textbook vintage’. With 97 points from the Wine Advocate it is one of the highest scoring recent vintages, praised by Neal Martin for its ‘haunting bouquet of dark brambly black fruit, cassis, honey, a tang of marmalade and bacon fat’. With a market price of £2,000, the 2004 is relatively affordable: a third cheaper than the 98-point 1998 and only 3% more expensive than the 93-point 2000. At £1,800 per 12×75, the 95-point 2002 would also seem to offer relative value.