This was actually billed as a master class, so a bit more than a new release tasting. And seeing as the next vintages were also available was a big bonus. Three days after returning from Rioja, a tasting of wines from Ribera del Duero and Toro was a most welcome change of atmosphere. It is great to see the guys from a major Spanish producer coming out to Australia every year or so to show their new release and have a chat to the guys drinking and selling their wines here.
The full range of wines was shown, including the Tokaji wines from Hungry (which I won’t write up here, as far as I know they are not available here at the moment). There was no news of the Vega Sicilia Blanco that has been in the pipeline for a few years now, when I asked after the presentation I got a smile from Javier Ausas (the wine maker) and that was it. Not sure what that means…
Anyway, there are some top vintages here. I am amzaed by Alion 2004 and Valbuena 2004, these are must have wines if you into Spanish wine at all. I was not too fussed with the Unicos from 98 and 99, both fine wines to be sure, but at these price levels ($500+) I would buy back vintages from 94 and 96 or wait for the 2000 if you find the need to buy Unico. On to the notes:
Pintia 2006 - High tone vanilla oak, caramel and coffee grind kick things off on the nose, with some deep, dark cherry, earth and christmas cake. Highly concerated dark fruit that has plenty of texture thanks to plenty of plump tannins. Good acid tannin balance here. 91 Pts.
Pintia 2005 - More elgant than the 2006 with a little boot polish and VA, not overly fruity or oaky on the nose at this stage, a little olive and black fruit was the main thrust. Quite juicy in the mouth with some peper and spicey fruit. This just didn’t hold my interest on the day, I had suspected a dud glass or bottle at one point, but no such luck…88 Pts.
Alion 2005 – Ahhh here we are. Deft oak work, olives and undergrowth, violets and mulberry backed up by some dark cherry. The nose shows very little obvious oak characters, but there is some coffee there if you look hard enough. Well strutured and balanced, the palate shows juicy red and black fruits and with layers of herbs, earth and fruit. Excellent wine, and only just pipped buy the 04 Alion as my favourate in this tasting. 94 Pts
Alion 2004 – Now this is the real deal, the nose opens up all floral with roses and violets, very well intergrated oak over the top of red and black cherries, mulberry and some blue highlights. More structured in the mouth with simply gourgus tannins and the kind of balance that makes the wine highly drinkable now and in 20 years time. As per the 05, juicy red and dark fruit with layers of flavour and complexity. It just keeps going on and on. A modern classic. 95+ Pts
Valbuena 2004 – A classic Vega Sicilia nose of VA, violets, a little funky barnyard, plums and red berries with some dusty earth. The palate shows structure and is quite tannic for this style. Loads of mulberries and red cherries with a slightly under ripe plum note (this is a good thing). Lip smacking acid and a big ol’ finish complete the picture. 94 Pts.
Valbuena 2003 - Now unlike many, I really rate 2003 in Ribera del Duero, mainly for the purity of the fruit produced. And this is no different. It seems strange to be talking about primary fruit flavours in this wine, but that is what its all about, ripe and fresh cherry, mulberry and plum fruit with a few earthy touches. I think it will many years before really see what this wine really has to give, but I’m betting it will be an excellent long termer in the cellar. 93 Pts.
Unico 1999 -This shows all the classic Vega Sicilia notes: VA, a bit of barnyard, nutmeg, cinnamon and earthy bramble with some mulberry, dark cherry and blackcurrant. Driven by its acid, this does impress in terms of texture: smooth and refined with barely noticable tannins. Plenty of fruit to round out all of that acid. Nice stuff, but not a outstanding vintage. 90+ Pts.
Unico 1998 – Coffee, smoke and touch of green capsicum, with plenty of red cheery and mulberry on the nose. If anything this seems a little reducded, which is crazy for a 11 year old wine! The palate shows some nice plum and berry fruit with some earthy complexity, however the wine seems a bit subdued. Fresh acid and a big tangy finish. 91 Pts.