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Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia Macan Clasico 2015

Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia Macan Clasico 2015

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"The entry level here is the 2015 Macán Clásico, pure Tempranillo from their 92 hectares of vineyards in the villages of Ábalos, Labastida, El Villar and San Vicente de la Sonsierra. It fermented in stainless steel after a cold soak, followed by malolactic partly in barriques and an élevage of 12 to 14 months in new and second use French oak barrels. This is the last vintage that was fermented in the old winery, but it has already finished its élevage in the new winery. They have much better facilities now, and they feel they have more precision from 2016 onward, as they have a great diversity of fermentation vessels; they have introduced 4,000-liter oak vats, and they can also treat the press wine separately. 2015 is a riper and warmer vintage, but they harvested quite early to find balance and avoid over-ripeness. It's clean, modern and balanced, with integrated oak and the classical berry flavors with a spicy twist. The palate is medium to full-bodied, with some grainy tannins and enough elegance to counterbalance the natural power. I would say it's a very successful 2015, a vintage that is overdelivering in many cases. 70,928 bottle, 1,042 magnums, 62 double magnums and 22 imperials produced. It was bottled in May 2017. Drink: 2019-2024. 93 points

I tasted the wines from this joint venture between Benjamin de Rothschild and Vega Sicilia when I tasted the 2019 portfolios of the different wineries in the Vega Sicilia group for my report called "Spain: Vega Sicilia Group 2019 Releases" that was published in the End of January 2019 issue. Here, I've reproduced the tasting notes previously published in that report in order to put them in the context of the rest of the wines from Rioja.

Their first vintage was 2009, and it feels like yesterday, but they are going to do their tenth harvest this year. They have changed winemakers, as Gonzalo Iturriaga replaced Javier Ausás as technical director for the Tempos Vega Sicilia wineries just before the 2015 harvest. And they started using their new winery in 2016, where they can ferment plot by plot, gaining precision. They are using larger volumes for the élevage, 4,000-liter foudre and 10,000-liter oak vats for the fermentation; they are also using fewer barriques and are changing the style of barrique they use to have less impact on the wines."

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (243)