The Wine Tasting Dinner!
Having previously set the scene of the 150 Year Anniversary Vega Sicilia Dinner, we now get down to the nitty gritty of the Vega Sicilia wine tastings themselves.
Vega Sicilia Wine Tasting List:
Our first wine tasting was of the 2007 Valbuena and the 1994 Vegas Sicilia Unico accompanied by Squab pigeon with pastille of the leg, avocado chutney, paprika jus and toasted almonds (don’t be fooled, those toasted almonds were a simple but delicious addition to the dish). The 2007 Valbuena is released by the vineyard after 5 years and is produced from the younger vines on the estate. The blend of the fruit is altered slightly in each vintage to produce a fine, fruity and more focused wine. The 1994 had a delightful smell of sugars and fruit and was good to drink, but as Xavier pointed out, the wine has yet to develop and he compared the drinking of the wine so early like “going to the movies and leaving the cinema before the end of the film”. It is thrilling to think this wine will be even more fabulous after another 30-40 years in the bottle!
The main course of Roast saddle of lamb, Jersey Royal croquettes and pepper salsa was chosen to set off the three Vega Sicilia Unico’s from 1986, 1976 and 1966. The richness of the meat and the pepper salsa contrasted wonderfully with the more mature and complex wines. Xavier explained Vega Sicilia is an ‘intellectual wine’ and thus understanding and interpretation lead to the full enjoyment of the wine gained through some training. So, our training continued as we sampled the various glasses of wine and supped on the lamb. If only all schooling was so delightful!
Vega Sicilia’s Unico wine is not an explosive, easily read wine. It has a discreet start with a wonderful ending, it is the full story in one glass but like any good story it needs time to be told and enjoyed.
Comparison Vega Sicilia Wine Tasting Notes
With five glasses of wine now poured we were able to compare the ’94 to the ’86, best described by Xavier. The ’94 is powerful, young with an open palette and the older, more mature ’86 remains powerful but the beast is more tamed, a domesticated animal polished by years in the bottle.
The ’66 Unico is described as being ‘feminine’ with a very complex and non-aggressive style. It is elegant with a linear palette. It needs to be consumed a bit faster than the other Unico’s as it is almost ready to drink straight after pouring. It was a delicious wine, which could be said to be a little lighter in body than its companions tonight.
The next course was a combination of soft and hard cheeses presented to show the Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial released in 2012. The three cheeses were a mature Mahon, a mature Manchego and Tou dels Til-lers accompanied with quince jelly and grapes.
Xavier informed us that this particular wine is not referred to as the 2012 Reserva, because it is special blend of the 1991, 1994 and 1999 Unico vintages which just happened to be released in 2012. The 1991 has an old character, with the ’99 bringing along a delightful fruitiness, and the ’94 being added to give the wine a tannic structure. Time and the combination of three fine wines produces in the words of Berry Brothers a ‘..super-Unico. An incredible wine’.
As if all of the above was not enough for one great night of indulgence, we still had the pleasure of a 2002 Oremus, Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos to sample with a Glazed blood orange tart with pistachio and Pedro Ximenez jelly. I am informed by Rebecca at BBR that ‘the citric and orange theme’ was chosen ‘to complement the fresh acidity of the Tokaji’. The addition of the pistachio and Pedro Ximenez jelly was designed to bring forth ‘”memories of Spanish wines but with a depth and resonance to match the sweetness of Puttonyos and the sweetness and savoury flavour of pistachios. The choice also carried the message of the meeting of two wine-making nations- Spain (Vega) and Hungary (Tokaji)- in one dish.
Berry Bros. & Rudd holds two royal warrants because of its cellars and knowledge of the wine industry. The celebratory Vega Sicilia dinner was proof of the validity of this reputation. As a guest, at the end of the evening I was fully sated, delighted and amused by the wines. If that was not enough I was also far more knowledgeable than when I passed over the 1689 threshold and into the cellar of Berry Bros & Rudd some hours earlier.