75cl * 14% ABV * Ribera del Duero, Spain
Vega Sicilia was the founding estate for Ribera del Duero, first put on the vinous map in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who planted cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux together with the native Tempranillo in this hot, continental region in north, central Spain. Shunning a formulaic approach, wines are aged in a variety of French and American oak barrels, both old and new, across different shapes and sizes.
Valbuena 5, the second wine of the estate - and only made in years which are considered not powerful enough to make the flagship Unico - is comprised of Tempranillo (and a splash of Malbec and Merlot) grown on the warmer, south side of the Duero river. Aged for five years before release, its fans consider it unfair to call this merely a second wine.
Serious and bold, it purrs with plenty of high quality oak underneath a wash of black fruit - plums, black cherries and currants - studded with dark chocolate and a certain minty savouriness. Round and creamy, it has much more accessibility than Unico - as you might expect - but will show its real character with time in bottle (or decanter, if you can't keep your hands off!). Drink to 2036+.
Fiona Beckett - of matchingfoodandwine.com - says that Valbuena is made for steak. Something 28 day aged for a younger wine and older beef for a more mature bottle. Or why not try both?!
96 Points, Wine Advocate // 96 Points, James Suckling