Last Wednesday, we lunched at Taberna de Haro with Puri M, export director of Vega Sicilia.  On visiting the winery in 2008, Phil and I were struck by the depth of methodical thought that proceeds every step that Vega Sicilia takes.  To enjoy the line of current release wines with amplification from Puri’s knowledgeable commentary was a treat.We commenced with the Oremus Dry Furmint 2006 which strikes an impressive balance between rich and lively, between fruit and minerality.  The wine was paired with tiny seafood bites - the winner being a salty, fresh razor clam, seemingly just plucked from the sea. Quickly onto the reds, our next course was a side-by-side comparison of Pintia 2006 and Alion 2006.  Toro is a hot place and the Pintia was the more masculine with the Alion showing softer tannins due to its lighter, chalky soils.  The more dense, purple fruits of the Toro contrasted well with the softer red fruits of the Alion.  Both are wines of strength, making their presence known on the palate, and the winery considers them the more modern expressions of Vega’s red wines.  I preferred the refinement of the Alion, but both are admirable expressions of the land from which they come. Excitement mounts as the Valbuena 2003 and 2004 are poured next.  2004 was one of the best vintages of the decade and it made for an interesting comparison with the 2003, known as a warm vintage throughout much of Europe.  As Puri explained, 2003 was not as hot in Ribera del Duero as it was on other parts of the continent, and the 2003 expressed admirable brightness and finesse.  The 2004 was a show-stopper, however, and my pen rushed to express its sleek edges, filigreed acidity, and incredible length.  The 2004 is supremely balanced and clearly has a long life ahead of it. The crescendo comes with the Vega Sicilia Unico 1999.  The handful of times I’ve tasted Unico, it has always left an indelible impression on me, and today followed suit.  Blue and red fruits meet a lovely smattering of baking spices, dustings of fresh-turned earth and just a hint of the herbaceous imparted by the small percentage of cabernet.  The spectrum and depth of its flavors literally sink into my palate.  It is both sexy yet demure, powerful yet elegant; this harmony of polar elements betrays its pedigree.  I look to see if any wine remains to refill my glass! And we must run back to work.  There is wine to sell.  But on thanking our hosts, they insist we cannot leave without quick tastes of Oremus Late Harvest 2006, Oremus Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 1999 and Oremus Eszencia 1999.  We stand by the door tasting droplets of these elixirs and I am thankful that Vega founded a Tokaji house to balance their stellar line of reds.  Tropical richness dominates the first wine and the Eszencia is remarkable for its unctuous texture, as expected of the style.  But my favorite was the 6 Puttonyos which made me sigh when I smelled it.  Burnt sugar and pineapple meet tawnied notes with an incredible freshness and acidity soaring through on the finish.  Harmony achieved once more!  And we’re off and running...

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