Macan is the result of a unique partnership between Vega Sicilia and Benjamin de Rothschild born out of a meeting between Pablo Alvarez and Benjamin de Rothschild in 2003. At that time Benjamin was looking for help to invest and produce wine in Spain and Pablo agreed, not to help but to become a joint partner in a brand new venture.
The new venture was christened BR&VS and the two partners chose Rioja to be its home as both Pablo and Benjamin recognised its great (still largely untapped) potential and hugely admired many of its wines. It took more than a few years to find and buy the right vineyards, amidst much secrecy to avoid speculation! Once the very best vineyard sites had been secured, two wines were produced. In the classic style of Bordeaux, there is a ‘Grand Vin’ (Macan) and a ‘Second Wine’ (Macan Clásico).
The philosophy of Macan is to make a wine reflecting a particular place. That place in question is San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Rioja Alta. Currently BR&VS own 80 ha of vineyards but only produce wine from 50 of them. It’s worth noting these 80 ha were purchased from 70 different owners! BR&VS are not looking to make a traditional Rioja - Macan and Macan Clásico are not blends of various terroirs but rather of just one particular terroir.
Locals would say that Macan is the sort of wine Rioja used to make in the 60s and it should not be considered ‘modern’ as such. BR&VS are not, however, following the traditional style of Rioja ageing and are not using the Crianza – Gran Reserva scale. They wanted the freedom to do what they feel is best for their wines, for instance they have decided to use more elegant Burgundian oak for the ageing. Tempranillo in Rioja is more delicate and therefore doesn’t need too much new oak.
Both wines therefore spend 12 months in 50% new and 50% 1 year Burgundian oak. Rather than trying to fit Macan into Rioja, winemaker Javier Ausas is looking for individual expression but also for Macan to clearly fit into the Vega Sicilia family of wines.