Wines from Bodega Vega Sicilia, Bodega Alion and Bodega Pintia featured in a dinner at Spectra, The Leela Gurgaon, on the 16th of September, 2011. Hosted by Brindco in cooperation with the Delhi Wine Club, the dinner provided the rare opportunity to taste wines from Vega Sicilia and its associated wineries in Delhi.
Ms. Purificacion Lobete Mancebo, the Export Manager for Bodegas Vega Sicilia, introduced the wines and provided both a historical context and a glimpse of where the House of Vega Sicilia is headed. As Purificacion described it, Vega Sicilia is a legend in the wine culture. The Bodega was founded in 1864 with vine cuttings from Bordeaux. In the 1840’s Spaniards were starting wineries in Rioja. Bodega Vega Sicilia was established away from Rioja in a region called Ribera del Duero. Though the region is now established as one of Spain’s quality regions – Vega Sicilia was one of its only wineries for over 120 years. As Purificacion described it – ‘because Vega Sicilia was alone for 120 years and did not have any competitors to respond to, it kept its traditional style’. Now coming up on its 150th anniversary, Bodega Vega Sicilia’s flagship wine ‘Unico’ is still made in its traditional style. A blend of 80% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) with about 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is aged for a minimum of 10 years before release. The ageing period used to be even longer in the past! The Vega Sicilia Unico spends about 6-7 years in oak – in a combination of very big vats and smaller French and American barriques. It is released after another 3-4 years of ageing in the bottle.
The vintage served at the dinner was the Vega Sicilia Unico 2000. Though decanted for over two hours before being served, the wine was still quite closed. Tightly-wound, nothing could coax the aromas out of the wine. As one of my fellow diners put it – the wine was practically demanding to be put back in the bottle. Despite being so closed, there was no doubt that this is a great wine. On the palate the wine exhibited its promise. With a sweet entry in the mouth, the full-bodied Unico displayed flavours of concentrated black cherry and plum. It had a tremendous, brooding presence on the palate – showing off its concentration and its substantial structure of acidity and tannins. I would love to taste this wine in another 10 years time – when I’m sure it will be past its ‘dumb’ phase and will have risen to its potential.
Bodegas Alion is another Ribera del Duero estate owned by the same family that owns Vega Sicilia. We were served the Alion 2007. The Alion is made in a modern style – a contrast from the traditional Vega Sicilia Unico. Full-bodied and savoury, the flavours in the mouth were reminiscent of olives and prunes. Again, this wine too needs time to develop. With wines of this stature – patience is not just a virtue – it is a necessity. Only time can release the true complexity that these wines offer.
The one wine that was absolutely ready to drink was the silky Bodega Pintia 2007. Bodega Pintia is another family owned estate and is located in the Toro region. The final wine of the evening was a dry white – the Tokaj Oremus Mandolas Dry Furmint 2009. Tokaj Oremus is a Hungarian estate founded by Vega Sicila in 1993. Dry Furmint can be a very interesting wine – and a welcome break from the usual run of Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. Unfortunately, the charms of the dry Oremus Mandolas were completely overrun by its placement with dessert at the end of the meal.