Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Berkmann turns 60 with Vega Sicilia reveal at National Gallery

Published:  24 January, 2024

Berkmann Wine Cellars began its 60th anniversary year with a splash last night (23 January) in the first of many events to mark the beginning of its seventh decade in the wine business.

Hosted in the Spanish Room beneath iconic paintings by Velázquez and Zurbarán, the evening marked a confluence of anniversaries, with new release wines served from across the portfolio of the 160-year-old Vega Sicilia, also coinciding with the National Gallery’s bicentennial.

Pablo Alvarez, CEO of Tempos Vega Sicilia, and group head winemaker Gonzalo Iturriaga de Juan led a sommelier-rich guest list through wines including 2021 Mondolás, 2019 Pintia and Macán, 2020 Alión, 2019 Valbuena, 2014 Unico, plus a 2004 Unico for aged comparison.

Remarking on the various anniversaries, Alvarez described Vega Sicilia as “160 years young”, saying that as the owner of the estate, “we will be looking to improve the quality for the next 160 years”.

From Berkmann’s perspective, as MD Rupert Berkmann explained to Harpers, the ‘anniversary evening’ served to flag a move by the importer to steer more icon estate wines into top restaurants, rather than the comparative anonymity of such wines lying in the cellars of private collectors.

Berkmann also highlighted his company’s nascent but growing programme to hold back vintages of top wines from the likes of Vega Sicilia, Antinori and others, to be able to offer more mature bottles to sommeliers and on-trade buyers.

Describing it as “a privilege” to be hosting such an event, Berkmann described how Berkmann Wine Cellars had been founded by his father Joseph Berkmann in 1964 – “when the trade looked very different from today” – while Tempus Vega Sicilia was founded in 1864, marking the beginning of a long journey that has seen Ribera del Duero achieve world status in more recent decades.

Berkmann’s head of sales – London, Luigi Buonanno, further revealed that 2024 would be a busy year for Berkmann, with a greater focus on interactive tasting events for sommeliers. These, said Buonanno, would encourage discussion about both wines and the trade more generally, with a view to helping encourage greater interaction and camaraderie within the sommelier community.

The occasion marked the first time the new release of Vega Sicilia wines had been tried in the UK.