2018 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5
Bodegas Vega Sicilia is Spain's most prestigious wine estate, and has produced some of the most famous wines in the country's history. Founded in the 1860's and based in Ribera del Duero, two hours from Madrid, initial plantings at the estate included Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, along with the indigenous Tinto Fino (Tempranillo).
The 2018 Valbuena comes from a cooler vintage with good yields that required sorting and selecting in search of a happy and vertical version of Valbuena, pushing a little more and giving the wine a little more oak, especially American (5%). It was produced with 96% Tinto Fino and 4% Merlot that went through a three- to four-day cold soak and fermented with indigenous yeasts followed by malolactic in stainless steel. The élevage was in new and used 225-liter oak barrels and 21,000-liter oak vats. It has 14.5% alcohol and a pH of 3.8 and 4.78 grams of acidity (tartaric), so it's ripe and with mellow acidity that gives it a mellow mouthfeel. This is a very spicy vintage for Valbuena, getting closer to the style of Único (while at the same time I felt the 2018 Pintia from Toro was getting closer to the aromatics of some vintages of Valbuena, like 2010). It was a late-ripening year with a tendency toward freshness in the wines. The palate is medium to full-bodied, with very fine tannins that made the wine nicely textured and very elegant. There is a lot of regularity in the Valbuena of the last few years, here with more tension and freshness of the 2017, a little more balsamic even. 180,580 bottles, 5,528 magnums and some larger formats produced. It was bottled in May 2021. Drink 2023 - 2032.
Luis Gutiérrez - Wine Advocate (Feb 01, 2023)
Deep and complex, with fresh black and blue fruit and an attractive floral and peppery note to this vintage, followed by hints of cedar, sweet spice and vanilla. Very dusty and juicy on the palate, with mealy, powdery tannins that interweave with the fruit. A Valbuena 5 that you can appreciate earlier. Drink or hold.