2009 Pintia |Vega Sicilia’s “Very Cool” Toro | 94 Points Wine Advocate

Vega Sicilia

A lot has been made of the famous Vega Sicilia. The name itself is undoubtedly the most recognized in Spanish wine loving circles. It holds its own – in more ways than one – alongside the most revered in wine. Its history is legendary.

I wonder, though how many know that Vega Sicilia was once sold as Rioja. Or that the original owner – Senor Lecanda – returning from Bordeaux with 18,000 vines to be planted at what is now called Vega Sicilia, would have the harvest distilled for Brandy.

My, how the world has changed.

Turn the page and meet the real forward thinkers, the Alvarez family, in charge since 1982. What they have done here is nothing short of miraculous. Expanding while perfecting, they have added estates across Spain, including Pintia in Toro, acqPintia 2009uired in 1997.

I asked about the name.

“Short, sweet, cool and easy to remember…” says Pablo.

They’ve tamed the once wild and belligerent Tempranillo of Toro, too. In Pablo’s cellars, deftly controlled by wine-maker Xavier Ausas, this is Toro with no equal. Very cool, very hip, totally unmatched.

The Vega Sicilia of Toro? You nailed it!

Track it down here

Drinking GOOD Wine in H-Town @ <$10

Hello Value Hunters,

Today begins a new series for me, new in SO many ways.  Being in the business as long as I have has afforded me the opportunity to personally witness a time in my life when the price for a really delicious bottle of wine easily hovered around $10.  You, too, may remember those happy days known as the 1980s when even Classified Growth Bordeaux from “The Vintage of the Century” cost less than the price of an average bottle of Pinot Grigio does today! 

But times have changed, dramatically, as we well know, and all things near and dear to us have escalated exponentially – seemingly overnight.  And one of these items sky-rocketing in value and costs faster than most is wine.  The cost for a bottle of wine, if one sits down and does the math, has out-paced practically every other “non essential” item in our lives in terms of price increases since the 1980s.  The rise in price for a “Cult” California Cabernet or First Growth Bordeaux, if you were so inclined to draw up THOSE charts, would sicken you!

And what about all those “World’s Greatest Wine Values” we once read about?  I remember the days of the early 1990s when we as consumers and merchants continued to enjoy a bounty of great wines for less than $10.  In fact, I still have in my collection of magazines issue 79 of the Wine Advocate wherein Parker, in 1992, reviews pages of glorious wines for under $10.  This same issue also shines like a beacon on the reality surrounding the prices for another prized region’s wines: Chateauneuf du Pape. 

Not to get too far off track here, but back in 1992, we could still score a highly collectible (and YES, you all know what that means, we’re all grown ups here) bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape for about $15 to $18!  Try asking for that today.  That’s Cotes du Rhone pricing!  And some of the better single vineyard or pure Grenache / luxury cuvees of Cotes du Rhone will set you back even more than that.

OK, OK, so what are we as daily wine drinkers in this “New America” supposed to drink?  It’s simply not politically correct to boast about that expensive ANYTHING anymore.  And I actually have folks walk into the store, seemingly agitated, asking my opinion on the expansion plans of these mega-retailers selling cheap booze and knock off wines on every corner here in Houston.  “Don’t these people know that greed is NOT good anymore” is a general mind-set of a growing number of neighborhood shoppers.  So, if the high-end wines are out, and the mass produced and marketed stuff being forced on us by greedy corporate empires isn’t setting well with you either, what’s the answer?


This series is dedicated to discovering as many wines as possible in that ever-shrinking category I like to call GOOD wine under $10. 

Put another way, these are wines, all costing at or under $10 per bottle that I would personally drink (1) at home, (2) with my wife over one of her home cooked meals after she works all day and then works until 8 PM lovingly putting our daughter to bed waiting for me to get home from work, (3) with family and friends, or (4) with any expert, wine critic and / or wine professional / oenophile that wanted to see if I had a clue what I was talking about.

I hope you have fun with these.  I certainly intend to have as much fun writing the continuation of this report as the introduction!


2003 Vina Mayor Crianza Ribera del Duero
Vina Mayor
100% Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) Dry Red Table Wine
Ribera Del Duero, Castilla y Leon, Spain

Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
Rating: 87 points
“A Very Good wine of excellent character that often belies its price point.”
Drink: 2009 – 2013

        “From a very good, yet overlooked vintage in the Ribera, comes this 100% Tinta del Pais (the local name for Tempranillo) offering a youthful, medium deep color that is ruby to the rim and almost gem-stone in color.  Fourteen months in American oak barrels results in delicious and forward aromatics of baker’s chocolate, coffee bean, chicory, vanilla and full on toasted nuances that are well integrated and alluring.  The flavors are mature and full of red fruits and that chocolate / toasted nuance from the aromas and also include vanilla and a basket full of baker’s spices that suggest a great pairing with savory meat dishes or spice rubbed meats on the grill.  Just a delicious mouth full of deeply flavored, medium bodied, mature wine. ”
                — Cepage Noir