Bodegas Vega Sicilia is ubiquitous throughout the world’s fine wine lists and collectors cellars! Alion is often considered the third wine of the Estate, after all, the grapes come from a mixture of vineyards next to the Vega Sicilia winery, originally planted from Vega Unico cuttings and grapes taken from the actual vineyards of Vega Sicilia at Valbuena. However, while being the progeny of Vega Sicilia is hugely beneficial, Alion is one of the highest regarded Spanish wines in its own right and special because it straddles the best styles of the Ribera del Duero and Bordeaux.
Alion was founded in 1986 and commercialised in 1991 by its owners to challenge the style of their great wines Unico and Reserva Especial, by producing a more modern elegant style from 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). This objective has certainly been achieved, manifest in their most recent vintage release, the 2012. The 2012 vintage represents one of their greatest in the history of Alion, receiving its highest ever score from Luis Gutierrez, who says as much ‘2012 has to be one of the best recent vintages of Alión’.
Vega Sicilia do not spare expense in their quest to create another truly remarkable wine, yet due to the higher production, 25,000 cases a year, Alion offers incredible value for money at £33.30 a bottle. Alion 2012 is released at 1/5 of the price of Vega Sicilia’s Unico, yet remarkably with a similar score. Therefore, Alion offers collectors the opportunity to experience the excellence of the Estate at a keener price point.
The wine is aged in 100% new French oak barrels and their mantra of a modern style derives stylistically from Bordeaux, creating a wine that delivers a synthesis between Ribera Del Duero and the Bordeaux Medoc. Alion is fermented in French oak, malolactic fermentation occurring in stainless steel vats and then aged in French oak barrels for 14 months and subsequently in bottle until its release.
The average bottle price of Alion has doubled in value over the last five years; the 2003 already costs £60 a bottle, as does 2001 which Gutierrez compares the 2012 to. Alion remains – for the time being – a wine for those in the know, it has the wow factor and collectors should look to secure it now before it enters the mainstream.
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate, 95 Points
2012 has to be one of the best recent vintages of Alión. This 2012 Alión is pure Tempranillo from vineyards averaging 25 to 30 years of age, harvested at the end of September and matured for 14 months in new French oak barrels. The nose is much more elegant than the Pintia from Toro (I tasted them together), still very fresh and primary but with a special brightness of fruit, shiny cherries, raspberries, something effervescent, open and somehow exuberant. The palate is quite round, much more polished, with some notes of dark chocolate, some subtle volatility, elegant, fresh and long. It has the balance and stuffing to develop nicely in bottle. Superb balance, Ribera character, clean, modern classic. 280,000 bottles were produced. After the warm and ripe 2011, there is a much more balanced 2012 Alión that reminded me of the 2001 vintage.
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