Vega Sicilia's One and Only - UNICO
Vega-Sicilia, based in Ribera del Duero, is widely regarded as the greatest wine producer in Spain. And that for ages - already in the early 20th century, the estate was recognised for its supreme quality. But the quality really hit off in the 1980s, when the current owners, the Alvarez family, took over.
On around 210ha, mostly Tempranillo, the Spanish signature red grape, is grown, alongside with about 20% of Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. The finest parcels are reserved for UNICO, the estate's flagship wine and one of Spain's most expensive and sought-after wines. Adding to this is the fact that UNICO is only produced in top vintages, when the grape material has a perfect quality.
Many of vineyards for UNICO are planted on north-facing slopes, which means that good acidity levels are retained. Through green-harvesting, the naturally low production of the mostly very old vines and a highly selective harvesting, only grapes in optimal condition find their way into this wine.
The wine itself is a red blend, containing mainly Tempranillo but also other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon (Vega-Sicilia doesn't really tell how much exactly - it seems to be one of their company secrets). We do, however, know that the production process is more than fit for a high-quality product. After fermentation, the wine is being aged for about 10 years before release - at least 6 of them in both small American and French oak barrels (both new and older) as well as in larger casks and cement tanks, and another 3 in bottle. But it can be way more - some vintages were aged for 16 years before being released. That's why the blend varies slightly from year to year.
UNICO is a real powerhouse and one of the most dense and complex red wines - on one level with the finest Bordeaux and Barolos. It is characterised by a trademark silkyness and finesse, and the tannins and relatively high acidity make this wine unbelievably long-lived.