Wine Spectator 90
"Licorice and graphite notes frame black cherry and dried herb flavors in this polished red. Not exuberant, but balanced, with harmony and depth. Drink now through 2024. 230 cases imported." ~ TM
100% Tempranillo, aged two years in French oak and one year in bottle before release.
Vega Sicilia and Benjamin de Rothschild began the Macán project 10 years ago with the steady acquisition of parcels in Rioja, purchased from small farmers. In this way, they quietly built up what is now a sizeable holding of 120 hectares, all within 10 km of the village of San Vicente in the Rioja Alta. (The name “Macán” is derived from a traditional name for the people of this sub-region of Rioja. ) They focused on the best terroirs, with stony calcareous clay soils, complex mesoclimatic influences, and deep-rooted Tempranillo vines ranging in age from 25 to 80 years old.
Each year, the winery aims to produce two wines, Macán and Macán Clasico, in a tradition they took from Bordeaux, where it is standard to produce a “first” and a “second” wine; the first is made with lots that show more potential, and the second is more expressive and easy to drink when young. This is perhaps the most notable influence of the Rothschild family on the project, because otherwise all viticulture and winemaking is in the hands of the Vega Sicilia team. The style of the wines is certainly not ‘traditional’ Rioja– for example, after trials, they decided against American oak. Perhaps the term Neo-Classical is most apt, with complex mineral-infused fruit and discreet oak influences, underpinned by a fine but firm structure.
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Spain's most famous and important wine estate is located at Valbuena del Duero, 30 km east of the ancient university town of Valladolid. The northern boundary of the estate is marked by the main road that runs along the left bank of the Duero (Douro) river between the river bank and the hilltops are some of Spain's most prized vineyards, on north-facing slopes at altitudes of 750-800m above sea level.
Care begins in the vineyards. Neither chemical fertilizers nor herbicides are used, but organic compost will be added if the vines are suffering unduly. This way, the high average age of the vineyards is maintained. The combination of old vines and severe pruning limits yields, which are further reduced by strict selection at harvest time. The altitude and cold nights delay ripening, and Vega Sicilia only harvest when the grapes are truly ready, which means late October or even November on occasion. Picking is by hand, and the crop is transported to the bodega in small plastic boxes so as to arrive in perfect condition.