Vega Sicilia to debut long-awaited Riojas

A pair of long-awaited Riojas from the makers of Spain’s most highly-prized wine, Vega Sicilia, will debut in Europe next month.

Macan samples

Macan samples

Both made from 100% Tempranillo, Macan 2009 and second wine Macan Clasico 2009 are the fruits of a collaboration with Benjamin de Rothschild.

Rothschild and Vega Sicilia’s general manager Pablo Alvarez own 75 hectares of 30-40-year-old vineyards in the Rioja Alta village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra.

Named after the colloquial word for the inhabitants of the village, Macan will launch across Europe next month and will go on sale in the US in May.

The style of the wines is a midpoint between traditional Rioja and the riper, more concentrated “alta expresion” Riojas that have emerged more recently.

“The old wines need to evolve and the modern wines are too international and don’t really represent a great region like Rioja,” Alvarez told Wine Enthusiast.

“We are very excited about the quality of these wines; Rioja is the most important region in Spain and we want to add our grain of sand to a place this special,” he added.

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San Vicente de la Sonsierra

The project began 13 years ago when a buyer acting on behalf of Vega and Rothschild snapped up 75 hectares of old-vine Tempranillo in Rioja Alta.

Vega Sicilia’s winemaker Xavier Ausas made experimental vintages from 2006-2008, choosing to debut with the 2009 vintage.

The Tempranillo grapes are fermented in wood and steel tanks, and then aged for 14 months in 60% new French oak.

Macan is expected to sell for around £45 a bottle, and Macan Clasico £25.

A winery building in Rioja Alta is under construction and will be ready next year.

Located in Ribera del Duero, Vega Sicilia has been owned by the Alvarez family since 1982.

Top wine Unico, made from around 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, is typically released 10 years after the vintage but some wines are kept back for up top 15 years.

One Response to “Vega Sicilia to debut long-awaited Riojas”

  1. James Swann says:

    The ‘alta expression’ or literally, high-expression, wines are actually so recent at all. A couple of producers began to make these very ripe styles heavy on new French oak in the early 1990s, following which the 1994 vintage is considered the reference for Rioja’s embrace of it.

    Today, however, this style, as observable across the wine world, is in retreat, to the favour of more subtle, restrained wines of local identity.

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