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2008 Bodegas Pintia, Toro
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Vega Sicilia, Spain's "first growth"; and most prestigious wine estate, is located in Ribera del Duero, beside a highway east of Valladolid. The estate covers around 1000 hectares, of which 230 - 250 are under vines. It was founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who arrived from Bordeaux with cuttings of local grapes (Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec) and planted them, together with Spain's signature grape Tinto Fino (clone of Tempranillo) in the arid Ribera soils.
The winery begun building its formidable reputation after 1903 under the ownership of Antonio Herrero, winning a number of awards, and enjoying an international distribution. The estate changed hands several more times before its acquisition by the current owners, the Alvarez family, in 1982.
Vega Sicilia has founded its success on its meticulous wine-producing practices: In the vineyard it applies low yields, aided by green harvesting, and a painstaking grape selection. In the winery, wines undertake a complicated series of rackings from huge barrels to new and old oak. Despite the very prolonged barrel ageing, e.g. the 1970 Unico has over 16 years, the wine flavours are never dried out or overly oaky when mature, which is compelling evidence of the superb quality of its raw materials.
The Vega Sicilia range includes 3 cuvees: Unico (";unique";) is the flagship, followed by Reserva Especial a blend of top vintages, both made up of Tinto Fino ( 80%), Cab. Sauv and little Merlot, and traditionally of 10 years ageing. Nowadays the wine maker, Javier Ausas ages the Unica wines for only 5-6 years, before bottling.
Valbuena is made from younger vines, and in years when Unico is not produced grapes normally destined for Unico will go into Valbuena. It is only released after 5 years' ageing. Spain's "Chateau Latour" has illustrious history, a sense of place, immense respect for tradition and immaculate winemaking. It has laid the foundation for what has become one of the best wine-making regions in Spain, Ribera del Duero.
The nearby Bodegas Alion estate is the innovative addition to Vega's portfolio. It produces a high quality wine for drinking young. Vega Sicilia also owns the Hungarian Tokay estate Oremus, as well the Toro Bodegas Pintia
A high quality red wine grape that is grown all over Spain except in the hot South - it is known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Valdepenas and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia. Its spiritual home is in Rioja and Navarra where it constitutes around 70% of most red blends.
Tempranillo-based wines tend to have a spicy, herbal, tobacco-like character accompanied by ripe strawberry and red cherry fruits. It produces fresh, vibrantly fruit driven "jovenes" meant for drinking young. However Tempranillo really comes into its own when oak aged, as with the top Riojas where its flavours seem to harmonise perfectly with both French and American oak, producing rich, powerful and concentrated wines which can be extraordinarily long-lived.
In Ribera del Duero it generally sees less oak - the exception being Vega Sicilia where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and then aged for an astonishing 7 years in oak and is unquestionably one of the world`s greatest wines.
The wine region of Toro is a predominantly red-wine appellation in Castilla y León in north-western Spain. Toro is situated in the province of Zamora, west of the Rueda and Ribera del Duero wine appellations, and in the Spanish Duero river valley near the Portuguese border.
The Toro appellation covers approximately 5,600 hectares of vineyards at an altitude of 600 to 750 metres above sea level. The region produces red wine across the spectrum from Joven to Gran Reserva, but all grades must be made from at least 75 percent Tinta de Toro (the local name for a clone of the Tempranillo red grape). The best reds tend to contain 100 percent Tinta de Toro and are robust, concentrated and well-structured.Cabernet Sauvignon is also planted in the region, but not permitted for its DO wines. White wines constitute only a small proportion of Toro production and are made from Malvasía and Verdejo.
Toro made its breakthrough when some of the greatest names in the Spanish winemaking scene showed their trust in the region's potential, and moved on to establish their own estates there. These included Vega Sicilia's Álvarez family, Rioja's Marqués de Riscal and Mariano García (the former Vega Sicilia winemaker) with its new Toro winery Mauro-dos.
Jacques and François Lurton of Bordeaux also launched a winery (El Albar) in Toro, where they're making wine both alone and in partnership with renowned oenologist Michel Rolland (at his Campo Elíseo). In Valdefinjas, Rioja's Eguren family of Bodegas Sierra Cantabria has Numanthia-Termes, which makes Termanthia and Numanthia, two of the most well-known wines in the region today.