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Of the 1,000 hectares making up the Vega Sicilia estate, 210 are used for wine growing, and there are 19 soil-types divided for management purposes into 52 plots with very specific characteristics. The influence of the flow of the river Duero and the passage of time have been vital in forming these soils.
70 of these hectares are employed to produce Unico. A unique, magical estate which, along with extraordinary management of the vineyard, enables the production of legendary wines.
The Unico ageing process is probably the world's longest, since it runs for at least ten years from the barrel to the bottle. 225-litre barrels of French and American wood, both new and used, and 20,000-litre tanks. A long complex process for a great wine.
The flagship wine Unico is a wine for all eternity. Only a handful of terroirs worldwide are able to match wine's extraordinary ageing capacity. This is a wine of inimitable style, mature, tremendously elegant and silky, in which the ageing process brings the mystique of the essence to the surface.
The qualities of the Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon in different proportions are assembled to perfection in this wine. Each provides a differentiating factor that makes the wine great in every vintage.
The vines are grown on plots where the land is located at the point between the slopes down from the wasteland and the alluvial plain. The soil nearest the surface is made out of fine colluvial deposits from the hillside with small fragment of limestone. There is abundant quartz gravel deeper down in a sandy main soil. There are many angular limestone boulders on the surface.
Red wine made in controlled fermentation using native yeast in wooden tanks. Malolactic fermentation also takes place in wood. After its fermentation, its goes through what is probably the world's longest ageing of a red wine, almost 10 years between wood and bottle. The different stages take place in different types of barrel: American and French wood, new and used 225-litre barrels, 20,000-litre vats, each batch is what determines the type of wood and the time spent in each container. After the stage in the wood, it is aged in the bottle to complete a long and complex ageing process. It will normally spend 6 years in wood and three in the bottle.
The different elements in its preparation are fine-tuned in the search of the master line that has guided the wine. Único remains true to a clear and well-defined style, with an inimitable character and style; elegance, strength, ageing capacity... A unique and timeless taste that has elevated it to among the aristocracy of the great classic wines.
It offers an infinite complexity that is gradually revealed, in every sip, the palate immensely silky and elegant, and has an ageing capacity that only a handful of wines in the world can claim.
Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico is still “a prophet in its own land”, Spain, and only a small part of the production leaves the country to be sold abroad. The production of Unico varies from 30.000 to 100.000 bottles depending on the year. The commercial success of Unico is nevertheless decided beforehand regardless of the amount produced, since each vintage is already sold out before the bottling. Yet 700 people are queuing for Unico´s customer list hoping that some of the customers of long standing would give up their place, or forget to order anything for two years, which automatically drops them from the list. The list of the privileged subscribers does not exceed 4,000, and they naturally remain anonymous. Pablo Alvarez, manager of Vega Sicilia, is conscientious when it comes to impartiality towards long standing loyal customers, even though the balance between the company´s firm commercial policy and influential quarters wanting wines outside its customer list is not always easy to maintain.
For example, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Spain a few years ago, the British Embassy wanted Vega Sicilia to represent Spain´s wine tradition at the dinner arranged to honour the Queen. Although the order had been duly placed and at decent notice, the estate was able to deliver only four cases for the dinner, of course with all manner of apologies for not having been able to meet the order in full.
Respecting loyal customers has been a matter of tremendous importance for Bodegas Vega Sicilia throughout its history. When Jesús Anadón was the estate steward the United States´ importer paid a visit and told him that in his faraway homeland the demand was more than 200.000 bottles. As he determinedly insisted that his order be multiplied, the inimitable Jesús stated without blinking an eye that the limit was 500 bottles and no more, and this was his last word.
Unico is a unique wine, and one of the great Spanish classics. It is the signature wine of Vega Sicilia and is taken from some of the oldest vines available. The wine is mostly Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
– The Unico wine is produced only in exceptional years, that is, in the course of one decade two or three vintages are "sacrificed" in order to maintain the high quality. It is right that the effect of the harvest is present in each wine: then the -81, -74, -75, -66. -65 and -62 are Unicos in aromatical complexity reaching baroque extremes and the -70, -89, -62, -42 and -22 ones are based on the tannic power reaching to be perpetual wine” , said Mr. Alvarez to me when we asked his personal opinion best vintages of Unicos
1941 Unico Bodegas Vega Sicilia (Ribera del Duero)
It seems nearly impossible to find Unico outside of mainland Spain, and so every time I return from a trip to Spain I carry with me some hard-earned bottles of it. This rare 1941 Unico I found with luck in Barcelona and its condition was almost equivalent to new.
Level was by the neck. Decanted two hours. Very dark, old brown colour with only hints of reddish tones. Intense and very expressive nose with flavours of eucalyptus and peppermint. Surprisingly feminine wine on the palate – smooth and soft taste and to some extent lighter than many other vintages, but was well maintained by the marvelous acidity that keeps it alive and fresh.
Sensitive and fragile wine with fantastic structure and balance – absolutely a wine for my touchy taste. Chocolaty, silky and a long, rich finish. Definitely one of the greatest Unicos along with the 1918, 1929,1942, 1957, 1962, 1968, 1970 and 1985!!
VEGA SICILIA UNICO 1941
Mythical vintage in Vega Sicilia like the 1942, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1970, 1986 and 1994 ones.
COLOUR: It has lost all the reddish tones changing to the mahogany range which points to its age.
NOSE: Great complexity of the old wine, aromas to eucalyptus and peppermint with cocoa and coffee. Toffee end.
MOUTH: Great persistence due to the acidity. It is a round wine where the tannins are not interesting, but the smooth and femininity.