2004 Único, Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero, Spain

2004 Único, Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Product: 20048004745
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2004 Único, Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero, Spain

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Description

Released in 2014. 87,516 bottles, 2,227 magnums, 156 double magnums and five Imperials. Tasted from magnum.

Sumptuously aromatic with baskets of berries. Arrives in the mouth as promised on the nose. For enjoying already with its plump fruit, layered with sweet spices and a tang of white pepper. The tannins come in smoothly. This vintage is distinctive for being the last to have such a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (13%). I gave this an identical score in 2016. A ‘typical’ winter followed by a mild spring, and warm summer with rain at the right time. 15 months in large-capacity wooden vats, 17 months in new barrels, then another 26 months in large-capacity wooden vats. 

Drink 2022 - 2048

Sarah Jane Evans MW, Decanter.com (September 2022)

wine at a glance

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Critics reviews

Josh Raynolds, Vinous96/100

Roughly 85% Tempranillo and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; aged for a total of seven years in large oak vats, new small barrels, used small barrels and large oak vats to rest before bottling, in that order.

Inky ruby: doesn't look like a ten-year-old wine. A heady, intensely perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, vanilla, pipe tobacco, new leather and potpourri, with a subtle mineral flourish. Spicy, sweet and expansive, offering palate-staining cherry compote and cassis flavours with exotic violet and chewing tobacco qualities. Deepens and gains spiciness on the smooth, gently tannic finish, which lingers with superb focus and tenacity.

Drink 2020 - 2026

Josh Raynolds, Vinous.com (September 2014)

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Jancis Robinson MW18/20

87% Tinto Fino, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon – a relatively high proportion of Cabernet! ‘Typical’ winter, mild spring with no frost, warm summer with ‘occasional rain at the right time’ and dry harvest, 28 September to 7 October. After fermentation, the wine remained in large-capacity wooden vats for 15 months. Then it matured for 17 months in new barrels and 26 months in large-capacity wooden vats. The remaining time was spent in bottle until its release in 2014. 87,516 bottles, 2,227 magnums, 156 double magnums and 5 Impériales. From magnum.

Glowing mature, shaded garnet. A meaty nose with shades of raw meat and curry spices. Very juicy and mellifluous (cf the 2006) and already provides much drinking pleasure. Marked acidity. There’s something like a really fine Sangiovese in the lightly agricultural nature of this wine.

Drink 2022 - 2042

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (September 2022)

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Wine Advocate97/100

The 2004 Único magnum was a revelation. It's very fine, elegant and balanced, starting to show more tertiary notes and the Vega Sicilia perfume. It's medium to full-bodied with a fine thread and very good balance. You can drink this now, but it should go on for decades. This contains as much as 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2,227 magnums were produced. Artwork by Luis Feito.

I attended a once-in-a-lifetime tasting of all the vintages in magnum from Vega Sicilia to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the purchase of the winery by the Álvarez family. It was not a very formal tasting but more of a day of enjoyment and celebration with colleagues from the international press. Food (from Celler de Can Roca) was even served during the tasting, so my notes are sometimes very sketchy; but I wanted to take the opportunity to give context to some of the greatest vintages ever (mostly 1970 and 1968), tasting all the wines side by side.

Drink 2016 - 2044

Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate (January 2023)

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James Suckling98/100

87% Tempranillo and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasted from magnum. 

A very classy Unico with tight, fine-grained tannins. Savory tar and dried leaves mingle with blackcurrant and wild blackberry, alongside hints of dried oregano. So refined and driven. You can feel the cabernet character shining through. This will go a long way.

Drink or hold

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (September 2022)

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Decanter98/100

Released in 2014. 87,516 bottles, 2,227 magnums, 156 double magnums and five Imperials. Tasted from magnum.

Sumptuously aromatic with baskets of berries. Arrives in the mouth as promised on the nose. For enjoying already with its plump fruit, layered with sweet spices and a tang of white pepper. The tannins come in smoothly. This vintage is distinctive for being the last to have such a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (13%). I gave this an identical score in 2016. A ‘typical’ winter followed by a mild spring, and warm summer with rain at the right time. 15 months in large-capacity wooden vats, 17 months in new barrels, then another 26 months in large-capacity wooden vats. 

Drink 2022 - 2048

Sarah Jane Evans MW, Decanter.com (September 2022)

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About this WINE

Vega Sicilia

Vega Sicilia

Vega Sicilia, Spain's “first growth” and most prestigious wine estate, is located in Ribera del DueroIt was founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who arrived from Bordeaux with cuttings of local grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec) and planted them, together with Spain’s signature grape Tinto Fino (aka 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 at home and overseas. The estate changed hands several more times before its acquisition by the current owners, the Álvarez family, in 1982.

The estate’s success is founded on its meticulous approach. In the vineyard it applies low yields, aided by green harvesting and painstaking selection at harvest. In the winery, wines are aged in any number of receptacles – using French and American, new and old oak, small barrels or huge vats – to engender further complexity. Despite prolonged barrel ageing, the fruit is never dried out or overly oaky – compelling evidence of the superb quality of its raw materials.

The Vega Sicilia range includes three cuvées: Único (literally translating as “unique”) is the flagship, followed by Único Reserva Especial (a multi-vintage blend) and their “entry-level” offering Valbuena 5° (an expression of Tinto Fino aged for five years, hence the “5°”). The top two wines are a blend of Tinto Fino with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot, depending on the vintage. They are both aged for approximately 10 years prior to release, normally spending six of those in barrel and three in bottle.

This illustrious property laid the founding stone for Ribera del Duero, which is now acknowledged to be one of the best wine regions in Spain.

Vega Sicilia has now built up a portfolio which includes Bodegas Alion (providing a more modern expression of Ribera del Duero),  Bodegas Pintia (in the emerging region  Toro), Macán (a partnership with Benjamin de Rothschild) and the Hungarian Tokaji estate, Oremus.

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Ribera del Duero

Ribera del Duero

In the last 30 years, Ribera del Duero has emerged from almost nowhere to challenge Rioja for the crown of Spain's greatest wine region. Once known only as the home of Vega Sicilia it now boasts numerous bodegas of outstanding quality like Cillar de Silos, Alión and Hacienda Monasterio. Ribera del Duero was granted its DO status in 1982, at a time when only nine bodegas were operating there, yet today it has over 200 wineries and more than 20,000 hectares of vines. Most of Ribera del Duero's production is red, with only a modest quantity of rosado produced. No white wines are allowed under the DO.

Ribera del Duero owes its success to a combination of factors: firstly, its terroir of schistous sub-soil bears remarkable similarity to other famous winemaking regions such as the Douro and Priorat. Secondly, its microclimate, with its high altitude, hot days and cool nights (a phenomenon known as “diurnal variation”), ensures ripeness while preserving the vivacity of the fruit, aromatic flavours and refreshing acidity.

Thirdly, it has been blessed with an exceptional native grape, Tempranillo (also known as Tinto del País or Tinto Fino). This yields superb, complex red wines that are delicious when young but which also have the capacity to age into magnificent Gran Reservas. Finally, the immense influence of its winemakers has been key – historically, of course, Vega Sicilia, but more recently Peter Sisseck (Hacienda Monasterio) and the indefatigable Aragón family of Cillar de Silos.

The same DO rules govern Ribera's barrel-aged styles as for Rioja: Crianzas are aged for two years before release with at least a year in oak barrels; Reservas must be three years old with at least a year spent in oak; and, finally, Gran Reservas must be five years old before going on sale, with two years spent in barrel. The young (joven) unoaked red wines, called Roble, tend to boast a moreish, vibrant, bramble fruit while the best oak-aged styles of Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva show intense, generous fruit, overlaid with notes of vanilla and sweet spice, and wrapped up in polished, elegant tannins.

Recommended producers: Vega Sicilia (including Alión), Cillar de Silos, Hacienda Monasterio

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Tempranillo/Tinto Fino

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino

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.

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