STORY BEHIND THIS WINE
Vega Sicilia is legendary, Spain’s most iconic wine estate, established in 1864 when Don Eloy Lecanda, having trained as a winemaker in Bordeaux returned to Castille and planted varieties he had brought back with him, alongside the local hero, Tempranillo. The flagship label, Unico is a blend of these and released about ten years after the harvest with a price tag to match its exalted reputation.
The Alvarez family bought the estate in 1982 and gradually modernised and increased production and in 1991 decided to create a Ribero del Duero solely from Tempranillo or Tinto Fino as it is known locally, released earlier than their famous Unico and so Alión was born, taking its name from Leon, where the family patriarch was born.
After successfully creating and in the process redefining the possibilities of Ribera del Duero with their Alión project the family decided in 1995 to broad their horizons and sprinkle a little of their stardust on the neighbouring region of Toro, on the river, the Duero, but 100km downstream towards Portugal where they were able to buy some old vineyards.
At the time the wines of the Toro DO, a region that boils in the summer and freezes in the winter, were politely called rustic, which is to say often alcoholic, coarse and tannic. The Vega Sicilia team experimented for four years with almost a hundred different combinations of fermentation techniques and ageing regimes and broke that mould to create a wine with an elegance and finesse previously unseen in the region.
Hand harvested grapes are carefully sorted before a cold maceration pre fermentation to gently extract aromas and colour before temperature controlled fermentation in wooden tanks and then aged in oak barrels, roughly 70-75 % French and 25-30% American, mostly new, for 12 to 15 months. Further ageing takes place in bottle for at least a year.
The 2016 season had a hot summer and a cool autumn, with August heat advancing sugar ripeness but not phenolic ripeness, i.e. pips, stalks and skins, but a relatively cool damp September allowed the later to catch up and the winery describe their 2016 as elegant, fresh, silky and precise.
95 Pts, Luis Gutierrez of robertparker.com, Dec 2020.
“There is a mix of black and red fruit that denotes good freshness. The palate is medium-bodied, with a distinct lack of rusticity and density, and it's more fluid. It has abundant, chalky and fine-grained tannins and a supple, long and dry finish.”