Perhaps the most iconic name in Spanish wine, this legendary bodega was established by Eloy de Lecanda in 1846 and until the 1970s was the only bodega in the Ribera del Duero producing fine wine. For more than a century it had been a law unto itself producing not huge quantities, but outstanding quality. When the Denominacion de Origen was introduced in 1982, the regulations were said to have largely written into law what Vega Sicilia was already doing.
The founder had, from the beginning, imported vines from Bordeaux, and the vineyard today consists of about 70% Tinta del Pais with about 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% each of Merlot and Malbec. Currently owned by the Alvarez family, the estate extends to about 1,000 hectares of which about 150 are vineyard. They also have their own cooperage, and cellar space for over 6,000 barrels.
The old Valbuena Tercer Ano has disappeared and the range now consists of the Valbuena Quinto Ano, aged five years between barrel and bottle, the Unico, aged for ten years between wood and bottle and the Unico Reserva Especial, unusually a blend of different vintages of Unico. All are superb. As demand greatly exceeds supply and successive owners have invested vast amounts in the bodega, the wines cannot be cheap, but compared with wines of an equivalent quality from elsewhere they do represent good value for money.
In more recent times the firm has built other Spanish wineries: Pintia in Toro, Alion in Ribera del Duero and Macan in Rioja. They also bought the Oremus winery in Hungary's Tokaj.
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