A joint venture between Vega Sicilia and Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the project was launched with the 2009 vintage following the classic Bordeaux model of a first (Macán) and second (Macán Clásico) wine. The brand was inspired by the name given to the inhabitants of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, the village in Rioja Alta where most of their 100 Ha of vines are planted. Their goal is to produce 320,000 bottles in the future.
A stakeholder at Lafite-Rothschild, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild owns Château Clarke and Château des Laurets in Bordeaux as well as Flechas de los Andes in Argentina, Rupert & Rothschild in South Africa and Rimapere in New Zealand.
Vega Sicilia’s arrival in Rioja was particularly muted –the company didn’t disclose vineyard purchases in the region until most deals were closed. The first vintages were made in rented facilities. It wasn’t until 2017 that the new winery located on the foothills of Sierra Cantabria in the village of Samaniego (Rioja Alavesa) was officially inaugurated.
Compared to the discreet location of other wineries in the group, the one in Rioja is clearly marked and signposted. Designed by Madrid-born architect Enrique Johansson, it has required a €24m investment. The enormous entrance hall reminiscent of a big company’s headquarters draws the attention of visitors, as well as the sheer scale of workspaces and the care taken to display the brand Macán in every space.
Grapes are sourced from 92 hectares of bush vines with an average age of 35 years, 90% of which are grown in the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra (Rioja Alta). The winery has purchased an additional 30Ha ready to plant a massal selection of Tempranillo in the coming years. Following Vega Sicilia’s recent work reorganization, the winery works with stainless steel and oak vats (10,000-litre vessels in most cases) where plots are fermented separately. Using a gravity-led approach, crane-operated tanks as well as a portable destemmer pouring grapes directly onto the vats are available. An optical sorting table was introduced in 2016.
Aging times are slightly different from Ribera del Duero. With barrels sourced from as many as seven cooperages, fine-grained oak and second-use barrels are preferred here.
According to Gonzalo Iturriaga, technical director of the Vega Sicilia group since 2015, Rioja has the largest capacity to evolve within the group. The styles of the wines are defined based on the nature of the vineyards: older plots on limestone and yellow clay soils are destined to Macán (around €54 in Spain, 52.000 bottles in the 2013 vintage), and lower altitude vineyards go to Macán Clásico (around €34, 70,000 bottles in the 2014 vintage). Both wines are 100% Tempranillo with 16 and 12 months aging in barrel respectively. Extended bottle aging is expected to be more relevant in the future. Macán Clásico 2014 is set to be released in March 2018, whereas Macán will not be available until a year later.
White wine lovers will be happy to hear that the winery is experimenting with indigenous grape Viura.