Rioja Vs Ribera. Two opposing denominations under the same variety.
Vega Sicilia is undoubtedly the best-known winery in Spain as a benchmark for wines of excellence. We associate it with Ribera del Duero , specifically with Valbuena del Duero. (web link valbuena city hall)
The history of the winery began in 1848 with the acquisition of the land by Toribio Lecanda , a landowner of Basque origin, but it was his son Eloy Lecanda who founded the Vega Sicilia winery in 1864, initially for the production of Brandy. and Ratafia (liquor of different herbs and fruits, whose name comes from the Latin Rata Fiat, “so be it” and the word “ratify”), becoming a supplier to the Royal House, which makes the winery famous.
Later on, the estate changed hands and Domingo “Txomin” Garramiola appeared , who introduced Bordeaux-type winemaking in 1904, regaining prestige for the area after the passage of the phylloxera plague (Ribera besieged in 1898, and La Rioja in 1899) , and it is in 1915 when the emblems of the winery that we know, Vega Sicilia and Valbuena appear, with a particular marketing , it could only be acquired by friendship, not to buy, which gives it that exclusive product characteristic that only a select few ( aristocrats and bourgeoisie) can enjoy. Then the history of the winery continues, being part of the creation of the DO Ribera del Duero in 1956 by Jesús AndónIt is currently in the hands of the Álvarez family, who has been the one who has modernized, internationalized and expanded it to other areas, such as Valladolid and Alión, Hungary and Tokaj Oremus or Toro y Pintia (you can consult the history of the winery on their page web ).
And the great houses do not miss the opportunity to grow and create new wines, always looking for the seal of excellence that has characterized them. And its latest incorporation has been in its oldest rival, La Rioja, collaborating on this occasion with Rothschild (owners of, neither more nor less, than Chateau Lafite in Paulliac, Bordeaux), to elaborate Macán, thus finding us with the reflection of the Tempranillo in the 2 most relevant areas of this grape nationwide , Ribera and Rioja, under the same roof, Bodegas Vega-Sicilia.
As we have said, they have in common working with the Tempranillo grape , the most widely planted red grape in our country, which gives the wine an intense red color, with low acidity and few tannins, giving light but very aromatic wines, and is It also favors growth with barrel aging, even so these possible weaknesses can be complemented with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot or Syrah .
One variety and two different Denominations of Origin.
La Rioja and Ribera del Duero are two different DOs, which allow the use of different coupages to give the wine its characteristics.
RIOJA: In the case of DO Rioja, the red varieties admitted are Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo, Graciano and Maturana Tinta ( DOC Rioja ).
RIBERA: While in DO Ribera del Duero they are Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot ( DOC Ribera ).
Both areas favor Tempranillo due to its continental climate , and we will frequently see monovarietals in both DOs, such as Macán Clásico, located in the Rioja Alavesa area.
We have been lucky enough to try among friends, throughout this year, Vega Sicilia “Único” 2003, and Macán Clásico. Macan was launched on the market in 2013, and the orders are running out as the vintage begins, so it is a fortune to have been able to test it (it retains in part that marketing from its beginnings).
Macán is made with 100% Tempranillo.
Vega Sicilia Unico 2003 (Tempranillo + CS + Merlot): an elegant long drink wine with a lot of tertiary presence linked to its aging in the barrel.
A sign that for the wineries it does not exist and for the client the “I am more from Ribera or Rioja” should not exist, but rather that one is the wine that one likes (and if it is knowingly, better), regardless of where it is done.
Vega Sicilia teaches us by elaborating with tempranillo as the protagonist two great wines from 2 areas “faced” by the public, with excellent results, which keep it at the top of the European and world wineries.
Let’s toast and cheers!