Wine Talk

Snooth User: spikedc

Vega-Sicilia Unico 2000

Posted by spikedc, Dec 30, 2010.

I've just read an article on this, asking the question ' Is this Spain's Greatest wine?''.

There are far wiser people out there to comment and the closest i'll ever get is to read about it.

As the article states no wine in the world is worth a price tag of £250+ a bottle or is it?

Love to know your comments and has anyone tried it.

http://catavino.net/spains-greatest...

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Replies

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Reply by gregt, Dec 31, 2010.

Not that vintage but plenty of others. 

Here's something you can take to the bank  - Vega Sicilia Unico is consistently one of the greatest wines in the world.  As far as what it's worth, that's entirely up to you but remember, people pay a lot more for red wine from Burgundy and Bordeaux and for the most part, those wines aren't nearly as consistently great.

In one of the greatest modern vintages, 2001, they did not produce Unico.  Why? Because there was a spring frost that killed some of the blossoms and the folks at Vega think that a second flowering does not produce fruit as good as the first. So while that's a vintage that has been hailed as spectacular in the Ribera, you don't have Unico.  Instead, you have 1999 and 2000.  This is where you pick the bodega instead of the vintage.  Those weren't outstanding vintages, but at VS they were sufficiently satisfied with their fruit to make their top wine.

In all, I don't believe any wine in the world is worth that much.  OTOH, I haven't had every wine in the world.  I have had plenty of expensive wine tho, and if the money is coming from my pocket, I'd rather have the Unico than anything else red.

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Reply by Avv, Jan 3, 2011.

I was lucky enough to have a private tasting at Vega Sicilia a couple of years ago. ( truly amazing) but would suggest trying some much older vintages. I think they need at least 20years to open up. If you cant wait that long i would suggest its little sister Aliom.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 4, 2011.

Wow, Greg, hold back a little, why don't you? Of all your always interesting posts I've had the pleasure to read over the past 18 months or so, this might be the greatest praise, especially of a red, I've seen you give! ;-)

Happy New Year...

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 4, 2011.

He must be drunk. I used to love Vega. The wines pre 1987 were and continue to be simply amazing and certainly amongst the finest wines ever produced anywhere. The wines post 1987 are still world class but there was a change in style, not to mention pricing,  and the wines seems less elegant and more directly fruit driven. I attended a Vega tasting last year but lost my notes. Time to drink some more!

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Reply by atonalprime, Jan 4, 2011.

A colleague of mine always talks of the good old days, touring through Spain with an orchestra, filling up their suitcases with cheap Unico.  What sort of price jump are we talking about, GDP?  Was this a result of it being discovered and widely marketed?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 4, 2011.

Well, it's sort of apples to orange but when the 1970 Unico was released in 1985 it was about $100-125/btl. Not cheap but known to be fabulous and with 15 years in the cellar already.

Fast forward to today, the 2000 is going for about $325-375, so the wine has tripled in price while CPI based real purchasing power simply doubled in tht period. Maybe it's not as huge a jump as one would have imagined but psychologically it's huge for me.

I think the internet certainly helped move these prices as the wine gained great reknown. They sped up the release schedule so that there was more Unico in the market than for a decade or so, and people were looking for the next great thing. It was a tide that lifted many boats.

By the way, that $100 bottle of 1970 Vega is now over $600 so it turned out to be a worthwhile investment.

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Reply by gregt, Jan 4, 2011.

Greg - for God's sake!!!

OK.  There has been a change in style because the winemaker of 30 years was fired and was replaced by someone with a slightly different take. 

Tasting their respective wines side by side from Toro, I consistently prefer Mariano's. Tasting their respective wines side by side from Ribera del Duero, that has yet to be determined.

The change in winemakers happened well after 1987.  The Unicos Mariano made are and will always be great.  If one were inclined to spend that kind of money on wine, stone cold sober I'd pick up any Unico from the great vintages of the 90s. 

D - it's just a great wine.  A few weeks ago was one of the first times I've had an Unico in a blind tasting and it didn't come out first or second. GDP bless his heart, likes Barolo.  Bless his heart again, he's far more catholic in his tastes than many people, but still - searing acidity and if you wait for 20 years you might get some mushrooms!  OTOH Unico is ready to drink when it's released and for the rest of your life. It's a lot of money and it's an individual decision as to whether it's money well  spent. 

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 5, 2011.

Greg, let's find out.

Vega Sicilia Blind tasting some time soon?

 

 

 

 

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Reply by gregt, Jan 5, 2011.

De gloves is off!

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Reply by gregt, Jan 5, 2011.

I haven't had the 2000.  Here is Dr. Jay's take on it FWIW:

"The 2000 Unico is deep crimson-colored with an ethereal perfume aided by its extended upbringing. Aromas of Asian spices, lavender, incense, truffle, and confiture of black fruits are compelling. Sweet, forward, rich, and hedonistic, it nevertheless has the balance and structure to continue evolving for another 5-10 years. In strong vintages Vega Sicilia drinks well at age 50 and I would expect the same of the 2000.'' 97 points by Jay Miller erobertparker.com

The 1999 got 96 from Josh Reynolds, and 96 from Jay Miller and then  after he scored it, it got 97 from Lisa Perrotti-Brown just to be sure.  And silly me, I didn't think it was nearly that good.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 5, 2011.

I wish I could find my notes. I think i thought it was 92 or 93,.

I'll bring the 86 and 70 to our tasting.

 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 5, 2011.

For some bizarre reason the site just crashed on me half way through a post

The discussions around this wine have been very good and have evoked some great emotion debate.  I have never tried these wines but I will have to see if I can source them [and afford them!!]

Anyway I would like to make a couple of comments on value and price discussions.

1.              Wine is an interesting product as it has everything from a very cheap commodity item  that is massed produced and sold at very little profitability to all in the chain through to the extraordinarily priced luxury wines like DRC which make incredible margins for their owners.  There is thousands of labels selling for less than USD/GBP/AUD <10 and many <5. Yet in very similar packaging we have a group of wines >500 and some >1000.  All made from the same base material grapes and using the same base process fermentation of grape juice.  So what drives price – Like any luxury product it is a combination of rational and irrational factors.  If you look at Bordeaux 1st Growths you can see that everytime there is a significant increase in the wealth of a group of individuals luxury products increase, Post WW2 Industrialists in the 50’s, Arab and Texan Oil Barons in the seventies, derivative traders and Japnese executives in the eighties, US and UK Financial product traders in the early 2000’s and new wealth in India, China and Russia of recent times.  These people seek out and products that publically decalre they are the now wealthy and powerful, price is no barrier for these super wealthy and therefore price goes through the roof.  Us mere wine lovers can only sit back and watch this happen.

2.              We also see price and value part due to taste and influencers.  It happened with Australian Wine in early 2000 when Robert Parker started giving high scores to our wines.  With the exception of Penfolds Grange, many of these wines had no or little heritage and were less than 500 case wines.  With a RP rating of 99+ wines went from $30-50 to in excess of $250 as US buyers taking advantage of our exchange rate of AUD1 = USD0.45 to 0.65 bought most of the production.  IMHO most of these wines struggled to be worth their original price of $30-50 and I understand to the chagrin of many of their owners are not developing into great wines and in fact some are falling apart after 8-10 years.  Again no rational link between value and price

3.              Is Spain greatest wine worth £250+, well who knows, is a Ferrari worth 5x a Pontiac or Ford or is a Picasso worth 5m x an original Harvey!!!

So it is a difficult debate but one worth having

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 5, 2011.

Am also enjoying the Greg a Greg, mano a mano sparks flying! Would love to attend that tasting, but I see no travel in my near future plans... ;-(

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Reply by gregt, Jan 6, 2011.

I was just yanking his chain a little bit.  But if you can see your way to NYC, you're more than welcome.  You too Stephen and Spike.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not arguing that the wine is worth several hundred dollars a bottle.  I'm just saying that it's consistently been the longest-lived wine I know and it's always good.  The owner says right now he's drinking the 1968.  If someone were to pour that vintage in your glass, there's no way you'd think it was that old.  It's complex and maturing but you'd think it has years ahead. 

By way of comparison, last night we had a 1996 Rioja GR and a 1994 Napa cab.  OK they are much more inexpensive but the aging profile was about right.  They're clearly no longer young wines.  The Vega OTOH, just seems to hang on to its youth while at the same time developing - it's always balanced, never an oak bomb or a fruit bomb, and never a tannic, bitter monstrosity either. 

Stephen - in Spain, for a hundred years or so, the wine has occupied a position much like Grange does in Australia.  It didn't really need points or reviews and in fact, was probably the one Spanish wine that the good people at the WA and other mags actually had heard of. Of course, as you point out, the price has moved up as wine in general has become an item for the public declaration of an arriviste, but that wine at least deserves its regard. That wine aside, Spain is very much like Australia in the sense that many wines have appeared over the past 20 years with no heritage and with loud praise in the press, and for the same reason, the market for those wines is essentially in the toilet, at least in the USA. I don't even think the Unico is the most expensive wine from Spain any more, but I think the people buying the more expensive wines may be in for disappointments down the road.

Rational link between price and quality? For me personally, no.  The quality curve isn't linear with price and it becomes increasingly flat as it passes the $60 mark.  I don't care to pay for a pedigree so that doesn't even factor into my equation.  BTW, a case of Lafite is going for $75K in China these days! 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-05/wine-dealers-warn-of-lafite-price-bubble-as-auctions-double-on-asia-demand.html

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 6, 2011.

So the tasting is off?

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 6, 2011.

No wussing out, now... ;-)

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Reply by gregt, Jan 6, 2011.

Off?  Whatever gave you that idea?  All this aside, I do have a wine you NEED to try.  No further information is available at this point.  And no, it's not a $500 bottle either.  But wierdly good.  I'm trying to get another bottle.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 6, 2011.

Wow, bribery involved, too, with a hint of mystery thrown in...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 8, 2011.

Can the Gregs put this off until spring?  I'll fly to NY to drink their VS, but my availability till then... not good.  Oh, wait, I wasn't invited. 

What I love about Spanish wine is that there is a great deal of it at the lower end that's also knocking my socks off.  Problem at least on the west coast is that we don't have enough of it.  Luckily I live down the street from Barlata, a great tapas place, and can always get a fix there.

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Reply by gregt, Jan 8, 2011.

Fox - sure. Likely travelling to take care of family matters in the late spring/early summer tho.  But if we can work it out, it would be great to have a guest of honor too. Who knows, maybe D can show up, or Spike, the instigator himself?

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