Vega Sicilia Valbuena 2004 (Ribera del Duero, Spain)
‘Did John Duval make this’
Suffice to say that, like many of John’s wines, this is one big, rich, oak framed red. It’s full, it’s oaky, it’s dense. More to the point, it is quite a different wine to its older brother the Unico, which is famously a wine that will live for as long as the drinker can leave it for.
Still, the question has to be asked with a wine like this – is it too much?
That cough syrup/plum liqueur fruit and deep oak richness can be almost overbearing in it’s ostentatious OTT intensity, the evocative palate flirting with overripe fruit before coming back to earth with a tannic crescendo.
It is, in other words, a dramatic wine, and one that not everyone will love. I didn’t, at first, yet that’s also part of the appeal – it is a wine that will monster you in its intensity, with an answer on whether you like it or not only apparent after finishing a glass or two.
Ultimately I picked option a) and ticked the box that said ‘damn good’, as beyond all that oak and alcohol lies a deeply profound wine – almost dry Port like in its intensity and length, with that same black coal fruit and flashy vibrance that the finest Portugese fortifieds enjoy.
I loved it. I loved the length, the stony finish, the biting tannins. It was a wine you could treat as an equal – super ripe, super tannic, super quality.
Perhaps the only question remains – is it too much or (Goldilocks style) just enough of a very good thing?
Tasted: Nov 2013
Score: 18.5/20, 94/100
Would I buy it? Yes. Keep it in the cellar though.