Vineyards of Vega Sicilia. SUR
What is Spain's best wine?
Food and drink opinion

What is Spain's best wine?

It is a recurring topic when like-minded aficionados get together for a few 'copas', writes AJ Linn, and this might be a contender...

AJ Linn


Friday, 26 April 2024, 13:34


What is Spain's best wine?' is a recurring topic when like-minded aficionados get together for a few 'copas'. Very few will know that the most likely candidate's name translates as 'Sicilian meadow' in English (referring to the original owner's origin). But if the question refers to the most expensive, then there is no contest. Few names evoke the same veneration and aura as Vega Sicilia.

At prices that are out of the reach of ordinary mortals, it is a collector's item which started off as a unique product that was rationed and only sold on allocation. From the Ribera del Duero region, it has ascended to legendary status, captivating oenophiles worldwide with its extraordinary qualities. Allegedly it was one of Winston Churchill's favourite tipples, even though back then it was hard to find outside Spain.

Alión: Vino Tinto Ribero del Duero

Probably the best value-for-money wine from the Vega Sicilia stable, though not particularly cheap

Made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Twelve months in oak, and once tasted never forgotten. Around 120 euros for 2019 vintage from Carrefour online.

The original vines were brought from France, and by merging the best of Bordeaux techniques with the unique terroir of Ribera del Duero, this landmark wine was born. However, it was not until the 20th century, under the ownership of the group that also owns Codorniu cava, that it really took off. The basic grape variety is Tinto Fino, as it is known in this region but more usually referred to as Tempranillo, occasionally blended with a little Cabernet Sauvignon.

Happily, the original allocation system is powerless against today's internet, and a brief search will reveal hundreds of offers of Vega Sicilia in its varied forms: Único Gran Reserva and Único Reserva Especial, the two principal products, along with the bodega's lower-priced Valbuena and Alión range.

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