Vega Sicilia Valbuena 2009
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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.
This is the best Valbuena since 2005, and it may be better than that. Exotic aromas of leather, lemon peel, sawdust and boysenberry come in front of a tannic but lively and intricate palate. Baked, heady flavors of black fruits, pepper and mocha finish with chocolate and vanilla as well as juicy acidity. Drink now through 2022.