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Wine Spectator
June 30, 2017

The Man Behind Spain's Mythic Vega Sicilia

By Robert Camuto

Pablo Álvarez is a patient man.

In 1999, Álvarez discovered that faulty corks had tainted some wines at Bodegas Vega Sicilia, the iconic Spanish winery his family purchased in 1982. He recalled the wine, at a cost of millions of euros, and then began planting cork trees on the property. They now cover 75 acres; decades from now, they may supply corks for the estate's wine.

Vega Sicilia's flagship wine, Unico, is one of Spain's most exalted and expensive. A blend of Tempranillo with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, from estate vineyards in Ribera del Duero, it typically ages 10 years in barrel and bottle before release. That's already significantly longer than most wines. But Álvarez waited until this year to release the 2005 vintage; he felt it simply wasn't ready earlier.

"He is a perfectionist in every single step of the production of his wines," says Miguel Torres Maczassek of Miguel Torres, one of Spain's top producers. "Pablo is responsible for leading not only Vega Sicilia to a new ultrapremium level but also has helped the reputation of Spanish wine around the world."

In 32 years running Vega Sicilia, which marks its 153rd anniversary this year, Álvarez has become a leader of Spain's modern wine revolution-investing heavily in vineyards and wineries and in painstaking experimentation...

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