We wrote to the producers who were in Tim Atkin's 'top 8 Ribera del Duero producers to watch', thinking we'd choose a few to make a mixed case. By the end the tasting, it was abundantly clear that this one, made by former winemaker of Spain's most revered and collected wine. Vega Sicilia (£400 for the current release) - was a wine we had to jump on quick. The winemaker is Xavier Ausas who grew up in the area and was partly educated in France, where he now consults. I suppose it's a bit like when John Duval left Penfolds where he made Grange, Australia's most revered wine. He was only going to go on and make more amazing wines. Like John, Xavier knows the vineyards and grape growers intimately, and knows exactly where to turn to get the best. Also, like John, he answers his own emails. It was amazing to be in touch with the great man himself, who was handed the torch by another Vega Sicilia legend, Mariano Garcia, who was winemaker between 1968 and 1998.
“The moment I put my nose in the first glass, I was taken to the Ribera del Duero of yesteryear. Power with elegance.. ..The wine shows the character of Ribera, a chalky backbone of fine-grained tannins, coated by fruit and berries, an herbal, spicy touch and perfectly integrated oak. There is good freshness, a rare combination of elegance and power and superb balance. My guess is the wine should develop nicely and for a very long time in bottle. 95 points.”LUIS GUTIÉRREZ, WINE ADVOCATE