Over the course of more than 100 years, Vega Sicilia has established itself as Spain’s most respected and luxurious winery, and that sterling reputation holds to this day. Many of the world’s leading wine connoisseurs praise the estate’s celebrated flagship wine, Único, including Spanish wine expert Luis Gutiérrez of Wine Advocate. He says this historic Ribera del Duero estate is “one of the greatest in the world” because of its unique terroir and its winemakers’ passion for crafting elegant, multilayered wines.
Vintage plays a crucial role in the quality and collectability of Vega Sicilia wines. The harsh climate of northern Spain’s Ribera del Duero produces wines with great character and intensity, but the region’s extreme temperature swings can also cause a significant variation in grape quality and flavor from year to year. For this reason, it’s important to familiarize yourself with this producer’s most successful vintages, particularly if you plan on aging these wines for long periods of time. In our guide to the best vintages of Vega Sicilia, you’ll discover delicious, age-worthy, rare, and valuable wines from the most lauded producer in Spain.
Why You Should Collect Vega Sicilia Wines
One of the reasons that so many wine collectors seek out the best vintages of Vega Sicilia is because the estate makes wine unlike any other in the region. In fact, this is how the flagship Único label earned its name—it is Spanish for “only.” Founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, Vega Sicilia was one of the very first Spanish estates to blend traditional Bordeaux grapes with local fruit. Vega Sicilia wines are a unique Spanish-Bordelais hybrid of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and a type of Tempranillo called Tinto Fino. Today, a few other estates in Ribera del Duero make a similar red Bordeaux-Tinto Fino blend, but Vega Sicilia is still the most sought after of them all. That’s because the estate has an exceptional terroir.
Many Único bottles can age for 50 years or more.
The vineyards of Vega Sicilia are located on low slopes above a valley. On the higher slopes, the soil is rich in limestone and chalk, while vines located closer to the valley floor grow in a denser mix of clay and gravel. Vega Sicilia’s winemakers claim that the unique combination of minerals found in these two different soils gives their grapes more intense polyphenols (flavor and aroma compounds). The estate’s vineyards are also impacted by extreme weather conditions. Summers swing between hot afternoon temperatures and chilly evening temperatures, and under these conditions the grapes develop both a high sugar concentration and intense acidity. These characteristics give the best Vega Sicilia vintages great aging potential. Many Único bottles can age for 50 years or more.
However, terroir isn’t the only thing that sets Vega Sicilia apart from other collectible Spanish wine producers. Vega Sicilia is also famous for keeping its wine in wood barrels for much longer periods of time than virtually any other still red wine producer in the world. The Único label was at one time kept in barrels for ten years or more before being bottled. This gave the wine additional layers of flavor, like vanilla and baking spices, as well as greater aging potential. Today, the estate has shortened this aging time slightly, but it still ages its wine in barrels for five years or longer, depending on the quality of the vintage.
For this and many other reasons, investing in the best vintages of Vega Sicilia is one of the wisest choices you can make as a collector. But to start a truly impressive Vega Sicilia collection, you’ll need to know which vintages are the most collectible.
What Are the Best Vintages of Vega Sicilia?
Before you invest in the best vintages of Vega Sicilia, you should know which wine labels are the most collectible. The estate produces three different wines:
- Único: A blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon with a small amount of Merlot and Malbec (older vintages also had a small amount of a white grape called Albillo). If you’re looking for the best vintages of Vega Sicilia, the estate’s flagship wine Único is a consistently great choice because it is only made in years when the weather was ideal and the grapes ripened perfectly.
- Valbuena 5: The same blend as Único, but made from grapes grown on younger vines. Valbuena 5 is more approachable and less age-worthy than the flagship wine, so it’s less collectible overall.
- Reserva Especial: A blend of multiple past Único vintages. This non-vintage wine is exciting to drink, although it is only released every few years.
If you’re looking for a wine to lay down or you’d like to drink the very best that Vega Sicilia has to offer, we recommend buying top-rated Único vintages. According to wine-searcher, these are the best vintages of Vega Sicilia Único:
There are also some high-quality vintages of Valbuena 5 that you should consider investing in, including:
The wines above are considered the very best vintages of Vega Sicilia Único and Valbuena 5, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only years worth buying. Even lower quality vintages are still exceptionally flavorful and taste unlike any other wine found in Spain.
Reading the tasting notes for each Único vintage may also help you decide which Reserva Especial blend has the flavor profile most likely to appeal to you.
If you’re also interested in trying Reserva Especial, finding the best bottles isn’t as simple as choosing a vintage, as these wines are made from a blend of multiple vintages. However, the producer always lists which vintages were blended in each release, so you can choose a blend that includes the very best vintages. Reading the tasting notes for each Único vintage may also help you decide which Reserva Especial blend has the flavor profile most likely to appeal to you.
Tips on Collecting the Finest Vega Sicilia Wine
The best vintages of Único are designed with collectors in mind. Vega Sicilia’s flagship wine ages for many decades and becomes more complex in flavor every year. Patience is key. Since these wines show their best after a decade or more of storage, consider keeping your best bottles of Vega Sicilia Único in a professional warehouse until they approach maturity. You can also invest in Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 as a way to “defend” your Único collection. This second label can be drunk almost immediately upon release (with rare exceptions), so you can enjoy them while you wait for this estate’s more age-worthy wines to reach their full potential. As for Reserva Especial, these wines are also quite age-worthy; consider keeping them in storage alongside your Único bottles.
Every bottle of Vega Sicilia represents an important part of Spanish history.
You may also want to invest in older Único magnums from 1960 to 2004. Not only are these wines still very drinkable (magnums often take longer to reach maturity than standard-size bottles), but each vintage features unique artwork from a Spanish artist. Some serious Vega Sicilia enthusiasts have attempted to collect every magnum in the series, and complete or near-complete collections could sell for many thousands of dollars at auction. Collecting these magnums is a fun way to learn about Spanish art and increase the value of your assets at the same time.
Every bottle of Vega Sicilia represents an important part of Spanish history. This producer has proven time and again that it crafts wines like no other in the world, and that it will continue with this long-standing tradition for many generations to come.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.