Moving on to the big guns, the 2004 Unico is truly spectacular, in line with the 1970 and 1994. It’s a blend of 87% Tempranillo and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. Unico has a unique long aging, in the case of the 2004, 15 months in 20,000-liter vats, 25 month in new barrels, 17 months in used barrels and a further 26 months in the big oak vats. It has complex notes of tobacco, cedar wood and blackberries, and shows very good balance between power and elegance as well as perfect ripeness. It has a similar profile to the 1994, but there’s ten years difference in experience and technical knowledge. There is nuance; there is detail, filigree, balance, harmony and complexity. There is a fine texture. In short, it is a great, world-class wine, a superb vintage for Unico. 87,500 bottles, 2,229 magnums, 150 double magnums and 5 Imperials were filled with this extraordinary wine. This is approachable now, but it’s a shame to drink so soon. It will age for a very long time, as it has the balance and harmony to do so, and it will develop more complexity with time. Drink 2016-2029. But if the single harvest Unico is fantastic, the multi-vintage blend could be even better as it also plays with the benefit of extra aging time.
I tasted the latest three vintages of Valbuena, to get up to speed with what’s in the market. If there’s a wine in their collection that has seen a huge improvement since 1998, it is Valbuena, which had been kind of neglected since the launch of Alion in the early 1990s. For Valbuena, they do not want a second wine in the Bordeaux style. But with the competitive Alion breathing down its neck and the pressure of its big brother, it felt a bit out of place. So they decided to look back at the vineyards: they studied the soils and saw why Unico and Valbuena had been (empirically) produced from separated plots.