The 2009 Valbuena was harvested early, the result of a warm summer. It’s mostly Tempranillo complemented with 5% Merlot. The wine matured for five months in 20,000-liter oak vats, 16 months in new barriques (equal parts French and American oak), four months in used barrels and then four more months in the vats before being bottled in May 2011. 180,000 bottles produced. It has some reductive notes and would benefit from some time in a decanter, where you’d start appreciating its background of cherries which feels very classical and serious. The palate is well-built, with polished tannins, very good acidity and freshness with elegance and fine tannins. Mature and with good typicity. Drink 2014-2020.  Bodegas Vega Sicilia remains a benchmark for the world's great red wines. The Valbuena bottling receives 3 years in barrel and 2 years in bottle prior to release. On the occasion of my visit in May 2010, the three Reserva Especials already in bottle and awaiting release were tasted side by side. They are identified (for the purposes of this review only) as the 2013 Release, the 2012 Release, and the 2011 Release. I was not told what vintages are in each bottling but it actually makes little difference. The Reserva Especials are blended to a house style designed to reflect Vega Sicilia at its very best. The vagaries of vintage (as reflected in Unico) are blended away leaving a wine that is, in my opinion, better than any of the single vintage wines with the possible exception of the 1942.