[Go to menu]


Jointly owned by Benjamin de Rothschild and Vega Sicilia
Rioja, Macan Clasico ("second wine")
Rioja, Macan
Size of the Vineyards
120 hectares total, composed of multiple small plots.
Location of the Vineyards
Vineyards are in the commune the San Vicente, which is technically part of Rioja Alta, but is on the north side of the Ebro River, and as such shares the topography and soils of Rioja Alavesa.
Stony calcareous clay
Grape Varieties
100% Tempranillo
Average age of the vines
25 to 80 years in age.
Average production
First vintage (2009) : 70 000 bottles
Second vintage (2010) : 90 000 bottles
When all vineyards are on stream, aim is to produce 200 000 + bottles
Vinification and ageing
As with all Vega Sicilia projects, the commitment to absolute quality is obsessive. Yields are kept to 3000 kg per hectare, compared to an average of more like 6-7000 kg in the region. Grapes are picked by hand, and loaded into shallow 12kg plastic crates to prevent damage during the short journey to the winery. After super-gentle crushing between rubber wheels, the must goes into a combination of wooden and stainless steel vats for a 2-day pre-fermentation maceration, before temperatures rise to 28°C during a cuvaison of approximately 15 days. Malolactic conversion 30 to 50% in barrel, the remainder in tank , then 12 to 15 months ageing in barrel - extra-fine grain French oak uniquely - before selection for the first and second wine and blending. Further 2 years ageing in bottle (this is Vega…!) before eventual release when the wines are judged sufficiently approachable for pleasurable drinking.
Notes on the property
The worst-kept secret in European wine circles for the last 2 years has been Vega Sicilia’s expansion into Rioja. Vega Sicilia and Benjamin de Rothschild began the project 10 years ago, with the discreet but steady acquisition of multiple vineyard plots from smallholder farmers. In this way, they quietly built up what is now a sizeable holding of 120 hectares, all within 10 km of the village of San Vicente in the Rioja Alta. In the true style of Vega Sicilia, their purchases concentrated on the very best ‘terroir’, with stony calcareous clay soils, complex warm and cool mesoclimatic influences, and deep-rooted Tempranillo vines of 25 to 80 years in age.

MACAN is the name chosen for the wines, derived from a traditional name for the people of this sub-region of Rioja. Each year, they aim to produce two wines, MACAN and MACAN CLASICO, “a first and a second wine following the Bordeaux tradition of classification by tasting the different lots and bottling a first wine with more potential and a second wine more expressive and easy to drink when young.” This is perhaps the most notable influence of the Rothschild family on the project, because otherwise all viticulture and winemaking is in the hands of the Vega Sicilia team.

The style of the wines is certainly not ‘traditional’ Rioja – after trials, they decided against American oak – but the style is not modern “alto espreccion” either. Perhaps the term Neo-Classical is most apt, with complex mineral-infused fruit and discreet oak influences, underpinned by a fine but firm structure. These are definitely “fine wines” in the grand European tradition, and sure to generate serious media, trade and consumer interest.