The foundations of Vega Sicilia's traditions may be found as far back as 1859, when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves was gifted an estate by his wealthy father. The origins of the Vega Sicilia winery are officially regarded as 1864, which was when Don Eloy Lecanda Chaves returned from his travels in Bordeaux with vine cuttings, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Carmenere - all of which were found in Bordeaux at that time - and, curiously, some Pinot Noir. Regardless of how Pinot Noir arrived, the cuttings were duly propagated and planted at Vega Sicilia, although the Carmenere and Pinot Noir are no longer found in the Vega Sicilia vineyards.
Vega Sicilia's Tempranillo is trained in gobelet fashion, whereas the French varieties are trained in a Guyot system. Green harvesting is employed ruthlessly in order to control yields, and the harvest itself is meticulous. In the winery, such a massive wine will withstand many years in wood and Unico sees a complicated series of rackings from huge barrels to new oak, to used American oak, back to new oak again, and on it goes. Whatever these phases are called, Unico certainly receives very prolonged barrel ageing, with the 1970 seeing over sixteen years! And yet these are not washed out, stretched, overly oaky wines when mature, testimony to the quality of the raw materials on which they are based.
-Chris Kissack, The Winedoctor
Learn More About Other Red Blends
Red wines are certainly not limited to Cabernet and Pinot Noir - or even Nebbiolo and Grenache. There are a multitude of grape varieties throughout the world, however, in a Darwinian sense, survival of the fittest only brings us wines made from grapes that can adapt to changing climates and winemaking techniques.
Notable Facts Our "other red wines" primarily consists of a multitude of different blends, such as Argentina blends - Malbec-based blends, often with Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah Australian blends - Usually Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blends Tuscan blends - Super Tuscans are often blends of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or others. Excellent and interesting blends in this category, however, come from just about everywhere, including Portugal, South Africa and Greece.
Some of the red single varietals you'll find in our other red wine category include: Carignan, a Spanish grape found in Spain (under the name Cariñena) and in many of the blends in the Rhone and Languedoc-Rousillon
Aglianico, a varietal from Southern Italy that makes some big and bold reds.
Montelpulciano d'Abruzzo, which is the grape Montelpulciano, from Abruzzo. A very easy-drinking wine from Central Italy.
Learn More About Ribera del Duero, Spain
(rib-EHR-ah del dwehr-oh)
Only a DO since 1982, Ribera del Duero has been making wine for centuries, and some of the bodegas there have been family run for generations. Of course, the most famous wine of the region is Vega Sicilia, possibly the most expensive and sought-after wine in Spain.
The wines of Ribera del Duero are mainly red – white wines here are not exported or revered. The reds come primarily from a variation of Tempranillo, called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais in this region. Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon are also used, but not so often. The best wines of the area are refreshing yet sturdy and complex, with an ability to age and mature gracefully.