Robert Parker 94
"I reviewed the 2006 Valbuena in Issue 189 (June 2010) when it was in bottle, but not yet released. It is composed of 80% Tempranillo with the remaining 20% Merlot and Malbec (the latter a rarely seen grape in Spain). Another 8 months in bottle seems to have resulted in a more expansive bouquet with notes of wood smoke, pencil lead, lavender, Asian spices, black cherry and blackberry. Rich, voluptuous, and lengthy on the palate, it is hard to resist now, but will continue to blossom for several more years and drink well through 2026.
Bodegas Vega Sicilias Valbuena receives 3 years in barrel and 2 years in bottle prior to release. Each year Vega Sicilia releases a small amount of a multi-vintage Unico Reserva Especial blended to reflect the house style of Vega Sicilia at its very best. The vagaries of vintage are blended away leaving a wine that is, in my opinion, better than any of the single vintage wines except in the very greatest years. It is a fascinating exercise to taste the Unico beside the Reserva Especial."
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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.