1969 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico


Unico is Spain’s most iconic and historical wine. You don’t need me to tell you that. Though Unico has been bottled for many decades, the consensus is that the 1960s is the decade during which its reputation was really consolidated through a string of outstanding vintages bookended by the brilliant 1962 and 1970. Perhaps the reputation of the latter overshadows the 1969 Unico. I tasted two bottles thanks to the same generous host last year. Though the photo depicts the second, that bottle was a bit “off-color,” so my tasting note derives from the first, which was poured in London in May 2023.

It was the first time that I had tasted the 1969 Unico, a blend of 85% Tinto Fino, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, Malbec and Albillo. There is a sense of delicacy on the nose that marks it out from the 1970. Slightly faded red fruit mixes with licorice and star anise. The 1969 coheres wonderfully in the glass and becomes more Bordeaux-like with aeration. You could almost describe the aromatics as “polite”. The palate is sweet and sensual on the entry, a beautiful Unico with subtle notes of wild mint and fennel. This is nicely structured, not a powerful wine, yet it exerts an insistent grip toward the finish, suggesting there is still petrol in the tank. I would not hesitate to crack open a bottle if you have one in your cellar. 93/Drink 2024-2035.

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