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Vega Sicilia: An evening with Pablo Alvarez

August 20, 2015

My dining experience went up another notch on 26 July 2015 when I was invited to dinner at Nicolas, now having moved a short distance from Keong Saik Road to Teck Lim Road. It is not that I have never been to Nicolas, but to be able to dine there on a Sunday when it is normally closed, opened just specially for our private function, and with the proprietor of Vega Sicilia present to pour his wines is another thing altogether. AlionIt is little wonder, therefore, that the man behind it all was none other than the great Dr S S Ngoi, celebrating the occasion of his daughter’s great success. As we gathered, the 2002 Billecart Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon Brut Rose was poured liberally, a dull golden glow with a rosy tint, displaying good intensity with an abundance of yeasty tones, dry but balanced, not too biting although it was not quite as layered as I’d expected.

As we settled down to dinner, the 2006 Bodegas Alion was poured from a double magnum, where half the tempranillo fruit is sourced from Vega Sicilia’s Valbuena vineyard and the other half from its own. Dusty red, this wine possessed a lifted bouquet of dark fruits and currants laced with exotic spices, succulent herbs and cedar, soft, medium-bodied and slightly backward for what is usually a robust wine, quite mellow in fact, finishing with mild tannins. A good wine, but immediately overshadowed by the 2010 Benjamin De Rothschild Vega Sicilia Macan Clasico that came next, again a 100% tempranillo but from older vines, which accounts for its dark opague purple with oversized medicinal overtones and other notes of sweet incense and cedar with remarkably open textures without being jammy in spite of its intensity.

As good as the preceding two wines were, the 2010 Vega Sicilia Tinto Valbuena No.5, a single vineyard tempranillo, was distinctly more sophisticated, proffering notes of camphor, dark chocolate and sweet dark berries with traces of graphite and game, robust but quietly intense, very open and layered, tapering towards a lasting finish. 20150623_131434[1]This was the perfect build-up to the piece de resistance, a pairing of Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva. The 2007 Unico truly lived up to its reputation, displaying generous seductive aromas of sweet ripe berries, plummy red fruits and dark currants of fabulous intensity and complexity on the palate, beautifully structured, the excitement heightened by supple tannins of infinite length. Truly outstanding. In contrast, the 1987 Unico could only offer a delicious, evolved and open bouquet of red fruits and cherries but failing to live up to its promise on the palate where it was unexpectedly stern and almost bitter, quite devoid of sophistication, joy and complexity. Still, it had been a great privilege to be present at Nicolas to partake in the wonderful camaraderie that evening and I can only extend, once again, my deepest appreciation to Dr S S Ngoi.

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