Stepping stones of Vega Sicilia

“We as Vega Sicilia keep Quality as our priority, to achieve, we sacrifice volume, profit and anything”

“The aim of everyone who works for Vega Sicilia is to always make the best wine possible and to look for the Excellency in wine”

Says Antonio Menéndez, Managing Director – Sales & Marketing

Being a Sommelier and wine lover, we get plenty of opportunities to taste and to explore different wines and wineries of the world. Which I believe the fuel of wine culture, but only few wineries and wine styles attracts us and leaves beautiful memories in our unique life style. Today I am going to write about one of the Passionate family owned wine group known for its uncompromising quality, affordable for everyone, brought flagship to Spanish wine industry, Bodegas “VEGA SICILIA”.

Bodegas Vega Sicilia is a Spanish winery located in the Ribera del Duero Denominacion de Origen in Valladolid, Castilla y León (North of Spain). The name Vega de Sicilia appeared for the first time in 1577 to refer to the estate.

The count of million, starts from one. Same goes to Vega Sicilia, the iconic wine group from Spain. Established in 1864 with one wine labelled as Vega Sicilia which is now expanded in 2 countries, 4 Appellations, 5 Estates and 13 Labels of wines and still much more to come.

In Maldives due to isolated island culture and the Islamic religious believes the opportunities of open promotion and events of alcoholic beverages is highly discreet. As I mentioned in my previous blog, the only way to learn in a professional way is wine master classes. But we never stop learning, always awaits to get opportunity for wine master classes.

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And once again got invited from MMI leading wine distributor of Maldives and Dubai. The moment I heard its vega Sicilia and Antonio Menéndez, Managing Director – Sales & Marketing of Vega Sicilia is our Chief guest for this Master class. My excitement level raised above the sky, I started to prepare my self to utilise this opportunity as much as I can to understand the wines of Vega Sicilia and Spanish wine Culture.

Left - manuel llamas - Head Sommelier Kanhura Maldives, Middle -Antonio Menéndez -Managing Director - Sales & Marketing, Right - Jeevs Jay, Sommelier One & Only Maldives
Left – manuel llamas – Head Sommelier Kanhura Maldives, Middle -Antonio Menéndez -Managing Director – Sales & Marketing, Right – Jeevs Jay, Sommelier One & Only Maldives

Huvafen Fushi Maldives was chosen as the venue for Wine Master Class, Huvafen Fushi is a luxurious resort located in the North Malé Atoll in Maldives, the wine cellar “Vinum” beautiful underground wine cellar, this was my first underground wine cellar experience in Maldives.

After Toribio Lecanda bought the estate from the Marquis of Valbuena in 1848, his son, Eloy Lecanda, started to make wine at the winery. Established in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, he started to plant grapes where no body planted grapes. In 1865, he produced the first vega siclia wine, that moment he produced only one wine labeled Vega Siclia.

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it is the church of the old village depicted on the Valbuena label.

Currently the domaine produced 3 wine Valbuena, unico, and reserve especiale, but Unico and Valbuene wines not been produced until 1902 or 1904 as the documentation was not so specific about the year of production for these wines, but both were introduced in the same time. Reserva Especial produced from 1950.

 

In 1905 the winery was sold to the family of bankers. Which was the bold move of the family who never had any experience in wine business, just thinking of making a nice financial investment. And by time they fall in love with winery and they decided to keep the winery until 1950.

In 1950 the winery was bought by an industrial group from Spain but they sold the winery in 1962.

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Hans Neuman

In 1962 the estate was sold to Hans Neuman, a Venezuelan from a Czech-Jewish family and living in Venezuela, who decided to buy the winery after he had tasted the wines in New York. So he decided to visit Vega Sicilia the day after the Tasting and he bought the Winery within a week. Hans Neumann, also known for his expertise in French wines especially Bordeaux wines.

Hans Newman played very crusial role in Vega Sicilia in term of International exposure.

In 1982 he decided to sell vega sicilia, as he was getting old and settled in Caracas, going back to spain was not Hans Neumann desire, and he was seeking for someone who can help him out to sell Vega Sicilia. So he asked help from one of the most well known business man David Álvarez, The patriarch had made a fortune in the janitorial services business-expanding his company in Europe, the U. S. and Latin America. To diversify his investments, Álvarez created an agricultural holding company called El Enebro. He knew Vega Sicilia would add extraordinary prestige to the group.

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David Alvarez

The first Appearance of David Alvarez to Vega Sicilia was as a Middleman to sell the property. Being smart and keeping the value of the Vega Sicilia in mind, he decided to buy vega sicilia as a financial investment. In 1982 Alvarez Family bought one winery Vega Sicilia, which had three labels Unico, Valbuena and Reserva Especiale.

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Pablo Alvarez

But the mysteries happened considered as highlight in the History of vega Sicilia, when David Alvarez decided to appoint his Son Pablo Alverz as a Coordinator to his new business. Pablo Alvarez was a young man; this was beginning of him to appear to support the family business. The responsibilities of Pablo Alvarez in Vega Sicilia was just to visit once in a week and to make sure everything is in condition. He was not involved in the wine making or any other winery activities. But unknowingly Pablo is been attracted by winery and wine making, within a year he found himself going to a winery 3,4,5 times in week, showed the willingness towards winemaking and wine business which lead him to keep the winery with family rather than selling. In 1983 a year after he expressed to his father, the vision of Pablo Alvarez took the Vega Sicilia from 1 winery to 5 winery and 13 labels of wines in 2 countries.

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In 1991 The Alvarez family created Alion, a modern and up-to-date wine, quite unlike the classicism of vega sicilia, Coming under the same denomination of origin, just 15 kms away from earlier winery, which marked a turning point in wine production in Ribera del Duero. Alion is made from 100% Tempranillo (aka Tinto Fino), get aged in French oak, the production roughly 350,000 bottles per vintage. Known for rich textured complex wine, also known as Play boy.

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In 1993 Tokaj-Oremus was founded in Hungary, just three years after the fall of communism. First interest of business in Hungary to buy a 6kms longs underground Cave which was belongs to Brand Oremus and they bought 120 hectors of land on top of the Cave. Here they produce White wines Dry and Sweet. Mainly using Furmint grape variety. Known for the Lusciously sweet wine Oremus Tokaj, 240 gms of sugar per litter with refreshing acidity. “Tokaj, the wine of kings and king of wines” is how Louis XIV described it when he tasted.

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In 2001 Pintia was created in the Toro region further down the Duero River. “Toro is like a bull, but like a bull it has horns,” says Pablo Alvarez. This was first time Vega sicilia is steping out of Ribera del Duero in Spain. Initially “Al Gill” was the name choose for the estate and 2001 vintage has cork has this name. this reason made Pintia 2001 vintage, collectors wine.

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In 2009 Vega Sicilia setup a winery in Rioja with partnership with “Benjamín de Rothschild & Vega-Sicilia, S.A.” Macan in Rioja is 50% Vega Sicilia and 50% Benjamín de Rothschild, Macan offers two different wines Macan and Macan Classico. Macan has long ageing potential and Macan Classico for ready to drink.

Apart from this estate rest of the 4 estates is 100% own by Vega Sicilia. But the journey is just begun, as the vision of the Group is to expand and to become more elaborated. Which makes to expect more selective estates and few more iconic wines from Vega Sicilia.

The six crucial stepping stone of Vega Sicilia in my opinion.

  1. In 1987 by eliminating Vega’s bottom-of-the-line wine, Valbuena 3°, a red released three years after vintage.
  2. Bringing the perfection in Valbuena 5° moving from blend to 100% Tempranillo.
  3. Limiting the production volume by 300,000 bottles per 100 hectares.
  4. Continuing Reserva Especial, with the uniques number of production of 15000 bottles per year, blending 3 different vintages of Unico.
  5. Offering Vega Sicilia in the same price in various market segments, of customers from Spain to Maldives.
  6. Keeping the quality as priority and sacrificing volume and profit for quality

Vega Sicilia completed 150th year in 2014. In this journey Vega Sicilia had nearly eight different owners, many different concepts and various business approaches. Which all made Vega Sicilia an iconic and flagship winery in Spain. As a wine lover I would love to expect more selective estates in new world and few more iconic wines from Vega Sicilia.

Yours,

SommelierArun

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