25 Wines in 25 Years: 2002 – Vega Sicilia Unico, 1966
OK, that was a long break but I’m back and determined to finish the 25 years by the end of this annum.
I left off at 2002. The wine I remember best from this year was the 1966 Vega Sicilia “Unico.” You might be thinking, “Who wouldn’t?” The truth is that unless you have amnesia, it is a hard wine to forget. Vega Sicilia releases Unico at least when they feel they are ready to drink. The 1985 was on the market before vintages from the 70’s. I know because I bought it for Hayes & Vine in 1994. That was the first vintage I tried and it too was memorable. While expensive for the time (I think we charged $225, give or take), it was a fair price by today’s standards.
At any rate, I was consulting to a Nueva Latino restaurant in the Mission in the early 2000’s and invited a few friends in for dinner. It was right around my birthday so one of them brought in the ’66 Unico. Part of what makes Unico so unique is that it has an incredibly long and high plateau.It has an extraordinary ability to stay moderately youthful, or in the prime of middle age, for a long time.
For me, the mystique of this wine has been its history. Vega Sicilia has been a world-renowned estate since the mid 19th century. It was, for decades, the only Spanish wine known outside of the Iberian Peninsula. While I may not be as wide-eyed about it today as I was earlier in my career (that can be attributed to general cynicism and the sheer fact that it is harder for me to drink heavy red wines than it was in my youth L), I appreciate its immense complexity, as well as its historical stature and the ’66, was monumental.