The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 22 of 128

STEVEN SPURRIER'S LETTER FROM LONDON Vega Sicilia "Único" 2005–1920 T PHOTO: DECANTER his unique tasting took place at London's The Square restaurant in June, in the pres- ence of Vega Sicilia's owner, Pablo Álvarez, winemaker Javier Ausas and export manager Purificación Mancebo. A total of 26 vintages were presented under three "phases"—Potential, Style and Randomness—enabling the tasters to track this historic wine across 92 years. PHASE ONE: POTENTIAL 2005 (to be released in 2015) Atypical exuber- ance, showing a touch of vanilla; robust yet polished; no hard edges but needs time to knit. 19- 2004 (to be released 2013) Terrific richness and natural sweetness; still a bit of "puppy fat" around the earthy vigour; a 30-year future and more. 20 2000 A very difficult vintage that combines power and elegance; good acidity; needs 3 years to smooth out. 2015–25. 18- 1999 Deep colour, wonderful Ribero del Duero depth, combines richness and finesse in the linear style. To 2025. 18 1996 A vintage, like 2004, that was "born great": classic concentration that combines depth, power, richness, grip to show understated perfec- tion. To 2030. 20 1994 Another great year, richly spicy, richly mature, but less vigourous than 1996. To 2024. 18.5 1989 Overshadowed by 1990, but turning out to be greater, with huge richness and generosity, warmth and discreet elegance. To 2030. 19 Vega Sicilia "Único" 2005–1920 PHASE TWO: STYLE 1990 (served from magnums) An acclaimed vintage, now showing more maturity than the 1989, while retaining lovely warmth and balance. To 2025. 18.5 1987 A difficult vintage that has now smoothed out to show middle sweetness and good savoury fruit. To 2020. 17.5 1983 Overlooked after the fabulous 1982; discreetly mature yet still vibrantly fresh; perfect now for another decade. To 2023. 18 1982 Almost tarry Barolo richness; still very young and natural tannins will keep it for ages; a truly great wine. To 2032. 20 1980 A rainy vintage, but still young with spicy/ vanilla notes, satiny/velvety texture, perfect acid- 22 / the tasting panel / august 2012 ity; not grand, but fine. To 2020. 18.5 1979 An austere year: mature red, still a hint of vanilla high acidity which will eventually domi- nate the sweetness and vigour. To 2020. 18- 1976 A very hot year; colour shows age but terrific richness on the palate; a linear wine with great warmth. To 2026. 18.5 1973 Mature colour; a finely poised wine that shows the natural energy of the vineyard; lovely now to 2018. 18 1972 Completely overshadowed by the great 1970, this shows a taffeta texture above "Único's" habitual firmness. Perfect now to 2017. 17.5 1969 Good colour, mature rim, wonderfully rich nose with great purity, even femininity; full of natural sweetness of fruit and vigour; a beautiful wine. To 2020. 19- 1967 Another classic vintage, younger looking than 1969; the rich concentration of a Noval col- heita port; very expressive, great natural warmth and depth. To 2022. 19 1965 A less ripe year, with fruit and grip but lacks the middle sweetness of 1967 and 1969. To 2015. 17 1964 With 1970, probably the most talked-about vintage of "Único": deep bright colour; really rich, vibrantly concentrated yet perfectly controlled; beautiful texture and endless finish. To 2025. 20 1960 Fine mature colour; lovely lissom fruit with a satiny texture, purity and depth in a femi- nine "Margaux" style; perfect now to 2018. 18.5 PHASE THREE: RANDOMNESS 1957 Still fine colour, tawny rim, typical vigour and warmth, beginning to dry out a little. To 2015. 17 1953 Full warm red; vanilla on the nose and chocolately spice on the palate; full of life with a port-like sweetness, perfect now to 2018. 17.5 1942 Full colour, younger looking that the 1953; vanilla richness and middle warmth, wonderful viscosity and lots of grip without drying out. Perfect now. 18 1925 Brown red, still some middle sweetness from old Tempranillo, but even Vega Sicilia "Único" can't last forever. (16) 1920 More brown than red; dry; the fruit has finally died.

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