Modern Rioja Project by the Rothschilds and Vega Sicilia

Today’s Story: Bodegas Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia

Bodegas Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia was established in 2004 as a joint venture between Tempos Vega Sicilia and Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild. With the Rothschild family legendary in Bordeaux and Vega Sicilia legendary in Ribera del Duero, the two came together over a mutual appreciation of the terroir and history of La Rioja as a winegrowing region. The venture’s first vintage is 2009, with the release of the first bottles of Macán and Macán Clásico in 2013. Macán is the flagship bottling and Macán Clásico is a “second wine,” modeled after Bordeaux’s first and second wine traditions. With 92 hectares of estate vineyards in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida, Ábalos, and El Villar, the winery produces wines exclusively with Tempranillo and seeks to create a modern expression of the variety.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Macán Clásico Rioja

100% Tempranillo; 14.5% ABV

The 2016 Macán Clásico Rioja is opaque deep purple/ruby in color, but nearly black at its core. This needed a solid 4-5 hours in the decanter to start really opening up, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of cherry, plum, black licorice, leather, tobacco, slight barnyard, baking spice, and vanilla. Moving to the palate, this modern Rioja offers notes of dark juicy cherry, cranberry, spiced plum, rose, cigar box, dried earth, dill, clove, and pepper. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $55. At this price there are certainly better value Riojas out there, particularly for me since I prefer the more rustic, terroir-driven bottlings over a wine as modern as this one. A modern Rioja is, however, what this winery goes for so they do hit that target. Though not necessarily a wine for me now, I will certainly continue to monitor these wines to see how the powerhouses of the Rothschilds and Vega Sicilia grow into this new venture over time.

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