The List




The List


Vega Sicilia Unico

Spain, like most Southern European countries has had its share of decidedly mediocre wines. No doubt, the influx of package tourists from the UK and Germany, who quaffed cheap red wine by the bucket-load from the 1970s onwards, did little to promote the cause of quality wine production in the country.

But ignore the cheap end of the market (as we’re sure you already do), ignore the often disappointing middle market (although, it must be said that there are a few hidden gems there) and head towards the high ground. And high ground doesn’t come much higher than Vega Sicilia’s Unico – arguably one of the only Spanish wines capable of competing with the best that Bordeaux has to offer.

The vineyard, which is situated in the Ribero Del Duero Denominacien de Origen, has been in operation since the mid-19th century, although it only began to attain its legendary status in the early 20th century, helped, no doubt in part by the owners’ distribution of gratis bottles to various aristocrats and movers and shakers.

Today, Unico, the company’s flagship wine, is widely regarded as one of the world’s great red wines. Composed of a varying mixture of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and, unusually, albeit in small amounts, the white grape albillo, Unico is not a wine that rewards early opening; dare to do so and it will knock your head off with the sort of unyielding tannins that taste as if they could remove paint at thirty yards.

But given time in the bottle (and we mean decades – not a paltry few years) Unico develops into something both wonderful and, yes, unique. In the 1990 - our recommendation - there is plummy, upfront fruit, but this is balanced by a wonderful complexity, featuring dark tobacco notes, leather and a hint of meatiness, which makes this a truly three dimensional wine (and a welcome relief from some of the powerful but ultimately one trick pony New World wines). The texture is silky and the finish just seems to continue ad infinitum.

What you are buying with Unico is not the quick fix of modern consumer society - to buy ready aged would, somehow, feel hollow. It is a wine that teaches the value of patience, and that some things in life improve vastly with age. Just ensure that you have the necessary willpower to eventually experience it at its finest.