The Wine Advocate
The 2012 Valbuena was cropped from a vintage with a very dry and warm summer that resulted in very healthy grapes. Since the 2010 vintage, this wine is fermented plot by plot following the findings from a soils study they did. The élevage is in French and American oak barrels that on average lasts some 18 months followed by another 18 months in 20,000-liter oak vats, but of course some lots had more time in barrique and others more time in vat. It has ripe tannins and a powerful mouthfeel but with a soft texture. Even if it's not widely mentioned, it always has had some French grapes, mainly Merlot, but this 2012 is the first Valbuena ever to be really 100% Tempranillo—because the Merlot didn't behave well in this warm and dry year. It follows the path opened by the 2010, more precise and elegant, rounded by that extra time in larger vats to finish polishing the tannins. I find this 2012 halfway between 2010 and 2011. It has depth and elegance, more serious than Alión, which is always the (maybe unfair) comparison. 174,545 bottles and some larger formats were filled in April 2014.
The depth and intensity to this wine is focused and rich with so much chocolate, coffee and hazelnut character. It is full bodied and very polished with juicy tannins. Light, angular edge.
Vinous / Antonio Galloni
Opaque ruby. Primary dark berry and cherry scents are complemented by suggestions of vanilla, coconut, cured tobacco and cedary oak and accented by a suave floral topnote. Sappy, concentrated and expansive in the mouth, offering sweet black raspberry, cherry-vanilla and candied licorice flavors that are supported by a spine of juicy acidity. Unfolds slowly with air, picking up a spicy quality that carries through the very long, gently tannic finish, which echoes the cherry and coconut notes. Hands off this one for at least a few more years.
Wine & Spirits
For the first time in its history, Valbuena is 100 percent Tempranillo. In the past, it always had some Merlot, but under the hot and very dry conditions of 2012, Merlot simply did not give the quality. Despite the season, the wine isn't marked by heat. After three years of aging in wood and two years in bottle (hence the name, Valbuena 5), this wine feels energetic, rich in kirsch flavors, evolving toward spices and plum as it gains in complexity. The texture remains tense and the structure feels tight, focused on a long life ahead. A classic Ribera del Duero, with elegance and depth.
Tobacco and cedar notes frame dried cherry, plum, loamy earth and menthol flavors in this savory red. Below the polished texture, firm tannins and balsamic acidity lend structure. Old-school, but harmonious and deep. Drink now through 2024.
Valbuena, is the purest expression of the Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) in Vega Sicilia. Tinto Fino is clearly the predominant wine in the assemblage of the varieties that make up this magnificent wine. The other variety used is Merlot, which is added to a greater or lesser extent depending on the vintage.