Is Vega Sicilia the Chateau Petrus of Spain?

Is Vega Sicilia the Chateau Petrus of Spain?

by Fred Swan - Guest Blogger


For decades, Vega Sicilia has produced wines of one variety at a quality level so high as to transcend national boundaries. Like Chateau Petrus for Merlot, Vega Sicilia Unico is typically considered not just the best Tempranillo in the Ribeira del Duero region, nor in Spain overall, but in the world.Finca Vega Sicilia

Though it doesn’t have the international mindshare of Chateau Petrus, Vega Sicilia is to Tempranillo what Petrus is to Merlot. What do they have in common?

For decades, Vega Sicilia has produced wines of one variety at a quality level so high as to transcend national boundaries. Like Chateau Petrus for Merlot, Vega Sicilia Unico is typically considered not just the best Tempranillo in the Ribeira del Duero region, nor in Spain overall, but in the world.

Despite its fame for Merlot, there are plenty of people who don’t know what grape Chateau Petrus uses. Yet the brand carries such caché many of them will buy it at auction or order it in restaurants anyway. They just know it’s good. The same is true for Vega Sicilia.

People who buy based on high price will also gravitate toward both Chateau Petrus and Vega Sicilia. While only about 20% the cost of Petrus, which is typically the world’s most expensive Merlot upon release, Vega Sicilia Unico is at the upper end among Spanish wines.

The price of both Chateau Petrus and Vega Sicilia Unico is driven not just by quality and fame, but by scant supply. While produced in higher volume than most “cult Cabernet” from Napa Valley, the Vega Sicilia Unico’s estimated 8,000 cases/year, only about 3x higher than Chateau Petrus, doesn’t do much to slake the global market’s thirst.

Vega Sicilia Unico’s very high quality, coupled with the magical combination of ample fruit, robust structure and mouthwatering acidity, make it a great candidate for long-term aging. This is not lost on collectors. It’s not unusual to see 50+ year old bottles on wine lists and in auction catalogs. And those wines have a good chance of being excellent drinkers. Even better news for people who appreciate aged wines, Vega Sicilia Unico doesn’t command a huge premium—you can afford to drink it.

About Vega Sicilia

Wine production at Vega Sicilia began in 1864. The quality of its wines rose markedly from the final years of the 19th century. Unico, the flagship wine of Vega Sicilia, includes Tempranillo and a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon, both grown on gravelly and sandy limestone soils in Ribeira del Duero. The wine is aged for a remarkable six years in various formats of oak, and then another three years in bottle, at the winery before release.

A Sampling of Available Vega Sicilia Unico Vintages

2008 Vega Sicilia Unico

2004 Vega Sicilia Unico

2003 Vega Sicilia Unico

1994 Vega Sicilia Unico


Shop for these and more Vega Sicilia Unico wines, including the non-vintage Unico Reserva Especial at JJBuckley.com.


JJ Buckley guest blogger Fred Swan is a San Francisco-based wine writer, educator, and authority on California wines and wineries. His writing has appeared in The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal, where he is a contributing editor. Online, he writes for his own site, FredSwan.Wine (formerly NorCalWine), PlanetGrape, and the San Francisco Wine School where he also teaches. Fred’s certifications include the WSET Diploma, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Napa Valley Wine Educator and Level 3 WSET Educator. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. In that same year, he was inducted into the Eschansonnerie des Papes, the honorary society of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC.

Photos provided by Vega Sicilia