Exclusive offer: 12/16/2022 — The best winery in the world: Vega Sicilia (plus a gem from La Rioja Alta)
Offer available until Sunday, 12/18/2022, at 3 pm or as inventory lasts.
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Hi everyone –
The best winery in the world? Those are some big words.
The list of competitors is long: Ridge Vineyards, Chateau Margaux, Petrus, Mascarello, Harlan Estate, Mouton Rothschild … the list goes on and on. But like the World Cup, there can only be one winner, and that is Vega Sicilia.
This winery has no equal. Their multiple projects (Vega Sicilia, Pintia, Alion) are examples of wineries that embrace tradition while adhering to modern and clean winemaking practices. Note the cork story below for an example.
Solo Vino has been one of the top supporters of Vega Sicilia for the last twenty years, and gets more than many retailers in New York and California. “More” does not mean “lots” — let’s be clear on that. We’re talking bottles every year, not piles of cases.
But over the years Solo Vino has slowly built up a little collection in the basement.
And you get to tap into the collection through this offer.
The wines of Vega Sicilia (including their other projects featured below: Pintia and Alion) aren’t cheap and as a result aren’t for everyone. I’ll cover the details of Vega Sicilia below, but to balance out the offer and have a more affordable wine for you, we acquired three cases of the incredible 2015 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza. Let’s start with that.
La Rioja Alta “Viña Ardanza” 2015
Always one of our favorite wines to have on the shelf. La Rioja Alta is a classic producer that many of you have heard me talk glowingly about. Their Viña Alberdi is one of the great buys in the world of wine, but in the last few years I’ve found myself reaching for the Ardanza more and more. And with the 2015 vintage (sooooo good) we have a clear winner here.
The magic in La Rioja Alta is the art of “racking” which is simply moving wine from one vessel to another. However, at La Rioja Alta, they do this in an ancient gravity-fed method that essentially sends the wine through a trough/gutter, exposing it to the air for a surprising amount of time before returning to a barrel to be sealed up. This gives the wines distinctive characters that you rarely find in any other wines, and this homeopathic “touch of air” has proven to make wines that stand up for an amazing amount of time after being opened. I’ve had La Rioja Alta wines two days after opening the bottle and pouring the first glass, and forgetting to put the cork back in, that have been incredible.
This is also ideal with a rack of lamb, which we are enjoying on Christmas Eve.
96 points James Suckling
A rich nose of raspberry, crushed strawberry, blueberry, coconut, cedar and sweet spice. It’s medium-to full-bodied with fine tannins and fresh acidity. Creamy, balanced and layered with vibrant, spicy character. Long and polished. 80% tempranillo and 20% garnacha. (8/2021)
94 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
I tasted two vintages of their sleek and polished blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, the oldest of which is the 2015 Viña Ardanza Reserva. It’s a blend of 78% Tempranillo and 22% Garnacha (because they found that they needed a little more volume in the wine) from a powerful, warm and ripe year, very interesting to compare with the 2016. They consider 2015 a very good vintage; they compare it with 2001, a year when they produced all the wines. There are three wines from 2015, and there is something in common in all thee wines. The grapes were picked in mid-October and put through optical sorting to ferment followed by malolactic until the end of the year. The wine matured in used American oak barrels—the Tempranillo for 36 months with six manual rackings and the Garnacha for 30 months with five rackings. I find it to be more tertiary, with hints of leather and cured meat and a little wild, very spicy. (LG) (7/2022)
I proclaim it to be the top winery on the planet. The wines of Vega Sicilia are coveted the world over by wine connoisseurs and collectors. The value of the bottles keep going up. The quality is second to none.
And we have some to sell you.
This is a big deal. There’s a legendary story in the wine world that in the early 1980s when Charles and Diana were planning the big royal wedding, the Royal Family Sommeliers (plural … a Royal life is a good life) were charged with finding the perfect wine to serve after the historic wedding. Months of tastings, hundreds of brands, loads of vintages, and they finally made their decision. The Royal Sommeliers contacted Vega-Sicilia and said congratulations, you have been chosen to be served at the most important Royal wedding in decades and will be featured at the head tables.
“Thank you very much,” said the representatives of Vega-Sicilia, “but there’s a problem. Charles and Diana do not have an allocation.” Vega refused to short-ship their loyal customers, and turned away the royal wedding order.
What makes Vega Sicilia so special?
There are a number of factors, but let’s start with the obvious: when you smell and taste their wines, you’re experiencing one of the best wines in the world. Full stop. Period. End of story. From the Unico to the Valubuena to the Pintia to the Alion, all are head and shoulders above others.
The complexity that Vega delivers in not describable with words. Layer upon layer of detail, fruit, herbs, spices, and more rush to the nose and dance and weave and wax poetic. There is something deeper, more soulful, more powerful, and more complex than any other wine out there.
The winery says it’s the soil. Others say it’s the winemaking. Many winemakers say it’s the attention to detail they put into their facilities. (An example of this attention to detail: years ago there was a small percentages of their wines that had a small cork taint problem. Rather than dispute it, refute it, or hope the problem goes away, Vega Sicilia recalled every bottle of that vintage and destroyed them, taking a $3M loss in the process. Then, they planted cork trees on the property. Tens of thousands of them. So not only do they grow the grapes and make the wine, they actually grow and make all of their own corks!)
Vega-Sicilia Unico 2012, Ribera del Duero
Unico is the single-vineyard (and single sections within that vineyard) flagship of the property. The only wine above this is the Reserva Multi-Vintage blend, which is so rarely seen many people don’t think it even exits (we call those wines “Sasquatch Wines” 🙂
The Unico is aged a total of ten years ahead of release, and the 2012 is spectacular indeed.
96 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The 2012 Único is released 10 years after the harvest. They produced it with the grapes from 40 of the 210 hectares of vineyards they have, with a total of 55 separate plots and 19 different soils. It’s mostly 95% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that are cooled down for 24 hours and then fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts. Malolactic fermentation was in stainless steel and the aging in 225-liter oak barrels and 20,000-liter oak vats for a long time as this was bottled in June 2018. 2012 is a concentrated year, warm and dry with some rain at the end of September that helped the end of the ripening process of healthy grapes with lots of color and ripe tannins. The wine has a ripe nose, with intoxicating notes of black fruit, fresh meat and blood, a spicy touch from the American oak and an earthy twist. It’s a voluptuous and decadent vintage for Vega Sicilia, for those that favor years like 2006, a bit atypical, or 1999. (LG) (12/2021)
96 points Wine & Spirits
A dry year in Ribera del Duero did not diminish the epic nature of Unico. There’s a delicate side to this vintage, with floral notes of violets and honey, touches of capsicum spice in the tannins and plenty of bold, luscious fruit to draw your attention. The tannins keep the wine tightly focused without any aggression, even as they may completely dry all the juiciness out of your mouth. It leaves a lasting impression of the textural grace of spicy old-vine tempranillo—a fascinating sensation of refined power, rooted in earthy depths that will reward long aging. (6/2022)
95 points Decanter
A textbook example of controlled, red fruited elegance, though more restrained perhaps than the glorious 2009. Undoubtedly a big, generous wine, with sumptuously ripe fruit, vibrant with redcurrants and fine cedar. The essence of Unico is its ageing, and as a result the tannins are are well matured and despite its years it retains a youthful freshness. The wine spent a 18 months in barriques and then a further three and a half years in 220hl tinas (vats), followed by extensive bottle ageing. (SE) (6/2021)
Vega-Sicilia Valbuena, Ribera del Duero
2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 vintages all available
Plus special vertical pack 2013-2014-2015
Valbuena is their “younger wine from younger vines,” aged five years at the winery before release. This is always one of my favorite wines to pull out for a special occasion, and I’ve literally stopped conversations in their tracks at sommelier gatherings by popping one of these.
We are lucky to be able to offer a range of vintages from the cellars of Solo Vino.
Valbuena 2013 review
95 points Wine and Spirts
With five years of aging, first in wood, then in bottle, Valbuena 5 is a young wine by Vega-Sicilia’s standards. The most notable characteristic of the 2013 is its density of flavor, ripe, intense and expansive, yet it’s full of detail, with an emphasis on Mediterranean spice and ripe blackberries. Then, the tension of the acidity seems to give an electric charge to the tannins, making it feel radiant and immediately inviting. But don’t: This is a wine for the cellar. Given the heavy rains at harvest in 2013, it’s a remarkably vibrant Valbuena. (6/2018)
Valbuena 2014 review
96 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The 2014 Valbuena, mostly Tempranillo with some 5% Merlot fermented by plot, making a selection from their 210 hectares of vineyards, and then matured in a combination of barriques and larger 20,000-liter oak vats. 2014 is a spectacular vintage of Valbuena, and it reminds me of the 2010, perhaps a tad more elegant and less powerful. It’s expressive and has floral notes on the nose along with wild berries, herbs and a spicy and smoky touch that’s nicely integrated. It has good complexity and nuance, and the palate is medium to full-bodied and intense, with pungent flavors and great length and persistence. Truly spectacular! (LG) (1/2019)
Valbuena 2016 review
96 points Wine & Spirits
This is the second vintage of Valbuena for Gonzalo Iturriaga, the Rioja-born technical director of Vega-Sicilia. And if it is any indication of his talents, the young Iturriaga has a lot to contribute to this iconic Castilian estate. The fruit for Valbuena comes from vines on Vega-Sicilia’s north-facing hillside in Valladolid, below the parcels that go into Unico, and above the road that separates the hillside from the bodega itself and the richer soils approaching the Duero river. In 2016, it has the exuberant energy of spring, cool and sunny with scents of Queen Anne’s lace and wild anise. The floral fruit ranges from the high-toned brightness of an August tomato to the deeper tones of green figs and dark plums. Then, the spicy note of crystalized ginger in the finish has an earthiness that calls to mind the crystalized gypsum in the soil on this hill. A remarkably elegant take on Valbuena, this is a wine to covet for your cellar. (6/2021)
Valbuena 2017 reviews
96 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
2017 was marked by the frost of the night between April 27 and 28 that Vega Sicilia fought with their anti-frost towers. The end of the season was warm, and the overall rain was low, 235 liters. The 2017 Valbuena is marked by these circumstances, produced with 94% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and 6% Merlot, with good ripeness (14.5% alcohol) and mellow acidity (4.65 grams of tartaric acid and a pH of 3.85). The grapes were cooled down and took three to four days of maceration to start fermenting with indigenous yeasts. The wine matured in a combination of new and used French and American 225-liter oak barrels and 21,000-liter oak vats for almost three years. The result, for whatever reason, was nothing short of spectacular. The wine is perfumed, floral, expressive and balsamic like few vintages before. It doesn’t feel like a 2017 at all; it is harmonious, and the tannins were fine. It’s an amazing Valbuena that clearly transcends the character of the vintage. What I see here is that since 2010, the wine has a very high consistency. And in 2017 it excels. (LG) (12/2021)
95 points Decanter
Proof that in a tough year (memorable frosts and summer heat) top producers can be relied on to produce fine wines. The 2017 jumps out of the glass with cherry and redcurrant conserve, and flowers. It enters fresh, with succulent cranberry fruit. Finally finishing with dark fruits embedded in mocha and spicy fenugreek. Complete. Following the Vega Sicilia pattern, it spent its first year in barriques (20% American, 40% French). And then a second year in the impressive army of 80-220hl tinas (wooden vats). (SE) (6/2021)
Pintia 2017, Toro
Pintia (pronounced “peen-cha”) is the Vega-Sicilia project in Toro, which is a higher elevation region than Ribera and makes tougher, stronger, more powerful wines overall. It’s easy to say this is the top Toro wine produced!
From Astor Wine and Spirits in NYC:
This is not your everyday Tempranillo. In fact, it’s produced from a tough local clone called Tinta de Toro that’s native to the Toro region and has adapted to the extremely cold winters, sultry summers, and sandy, pebbly soil that naturally resists Phylloxera. This allows two thirds of the vines that produce Pintia to grow on their own roots. This wine opens up to a revelry of aromas with violets, tart red fruits, and forest floor. On the palate, plummy baked dark fruit, hints of cedar, and a distant smoke on the horizon. A powerful, seductive wine that speaks volumes of its unique terroir. After years of production experiments, and after many incredible vintages, Pintia can be said to have reached its objective: to achieve maximum elegance in a rustic area such as Toro. Played very nice with pappardelle, jowl bacon, tomato, and chiles. – SG
Alion 2014 and 2018, Ribera del Duero
Returning to Ribera, Alion represents a more modern side to the Vega winemaking philosophies. Exuberant, concentrated, polished, and multi-dimensional, it’s a wine that tends to win the contest of best-wine-around-the-table. I’ve enjoyed Alion for years, and of all the Vega Sicilia projects, it’s the one I pop most often (partially because it’s the most available on any given vintage).
2014 vintage: 96 points Wine & Spirits
Alion comes from a 320-acre vineyard on the gravelly bank of the Douro River. This 2014 is one of the best vintages Vega-Sicilia has produced. In a year marked by a hot summer and moderate-to-warm temperatures in the fall, the wine ripened to succulent red fruit flavor with radiant spice notes and a sleek earthiness. And the texture, so soft and generous, makes it very easy to drink. It’s a modern Ribera, focused on ripe fruit, balanced and harmonious. (6/2018)
2014 vintage: 94 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
2014 is a better vintage in Ribera del Duero than in Rioja, and the 2014 Alión shows it. Sourced from 130 hectares of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) in Ribera del Duero and possibly the most modern of the Vega Sicilia Group wines, it’s silky, voluptuous, jammy, ripe and generous without being too much. The grapes fermented with indigenous yeasts in oak vats, and the wine matured in new and second use French barriques for 12 to 14 months. It’s quite ripe and powerful yet balanced and with great freshness. The palate is medium to full-bodied with lots of fruit, juicy and showy, modern without excess. 284,284 bottles along with 6,500 magnums and some larger formats were produced. You might want to give it some more time in bottle. It was bottled in June 2016. (LG) (8/2018)
2018 vintage: 95+ points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“The 2018 Alión follows the path of the 2016: it is fresh and elegant and from a cooler (more Atlantic) vintage with more rain than the average and a relatively late harvest between September 28th and October 12th. They used 80% new barrels, with up to 10% made of American oak looking to (in their own words) give more sucrosity and sweetness to the wine, as it’s a more vertical, tense and elegant expression of Alión. Part of the wine matured in concrete (something they started in 2016), and in 2021 they are experimenting with a 4,000-liter Rousseau foudre, as they want to keep working the texture and freshness. The wine is ripe at 15% alcohol and has a pH of 3.8 and a mellow 4.6 grams of acidity, round and soft. The wine matured until it was bottled in June 2020. The truth is that the wine comes through as subtle, elegant and balanced, with very integrated oak and a nice texture. It’s one of the finest vintages for Alión.”
This is a big time offer. Obviously, it’s timed to the season and if you’re looking for that special gift (maybe for yourself) there is nothing that can compete with Vega-Sicilia. If you’re not in the mood for the cost of Vega, the La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza is hands down one of the top wines of the year.
Many thanks to Solo Vino for opening up the cellar for this offer.
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Sunday at 3:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.
This offer has closed. Thank you for your interest.