Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Reserva Tondonia, 2008

$54.99
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A very good vintage from arguably the pre-eminent Rioja winery, this is rich and stately without any heaviness or clunky oak. Aged for 6 years in American oak barrels, this Reserva could easily be mistaken for any other producer's Gran Reserva.

A blend of 75% Tempranillo, with 15% Garnacha and 10% Graciano and Mazuelo (or Carignan).

One of the many clichés employed by the wine world is the adjective “traditional”. However, there is one winery where that adjective very appropriately applies. Little about López de Heredia has changed in the more than 130 years since its founding. It occupies the same historic cellars and unlike most of their competitors, which are now owned by outside investors, López de Heredia is owned, and every detail of its operation is handled by the family who founded it.

Due to the way the industry has evolved in Rioja, most bodegas buy grapes from dozens of small growers, but not López de Heredia. They own every inch of the vineyards that supply their wines. In addition, they eschew any use of commercial yeasts and rely only natural yeasts present in their ancient cellar.

A visit to Lopez makes this all very clear. When you descend into the cellar you are met with a rush of cool air tinged with the telltale odor of penicillin. Carved out of solid rock, fifty feet underground, the cellars are at a constant 54 degrees, perfectly situated for the aging of wine and the cultivation of friendly microbes. The walls are black and wet with the occasional patch of white mold. Inside you will find 12,900 American oak barrels and 72 ancient fermenters as well as one of the worlds great collection of cobwebs.

The bodega is now in the capable hands of the family’s youngest generation—Maria José, Mercedes and Julio César. Yet, still nothing changes. In fact, these three are as philosophically committed to the winery’s traditions as their parents and grandparents were before them.

The wines are always masterful but in certain vintages can be transcendent. Lopéz labels their wines in all three rioja categories, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Technically almost all of their wines meet the regions criteria for Gran Reserva but as usual they do it the old ways, making Gran Reserva only in exceptional vintage.

Professional Reviews

Robert Parker

RP 95
"The nose of the 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva is very elegant, fresh and with an herbal twist, starting to show the complexity of the aged wines that are sometimes still too young when they are released 10+ years from the vintage! The palate is medium-bodied, with lightness and depth, very classical with extra freshness and all that is needed for a long development in bottle. This is the more Tondonia of the two vintages I tasted side by side. There are notes of maple syrup, smoke, licorice and crisp fruit. The palate is more austere, crunchy and reveals the chalkiness of the soils. There's more definition and precision here."

What importer Bowler Wine has to say about this wine...

These bottles have been lying in the Lopez de Heredia cellars in conditions of high humidity and constant temperatures; the humidity is naturally regulated by mold, which secretes or absorbs humidity depending on the levels. These bottles naturally attract mold and dust. Because the wine has been hand bottled and aged over many years, the height of wine in the neck will always be irregular, even when the wine is from the same barrel. Filled, waxed and labelled by hand, the bottle keeps most of the dust that settles over the years. We regard this weathered exterior look as a sign of the age and care that has gone into crafting the wine. We certainly don’t try to hide it, and can assure you that it will not affect either the quality or your pleasure in drinking this Gran Reserva.

Once received, any bottle of wine (especially a Gran Reserva) should be left to settle for at least a week, preferably in a quiet, dark and cool place with constant temperature and humidity (humidity of 70-80% and temperature between 18º and 20º C).

Details

  • Country

    Spain

  • Region

    Rioja

  • Grape Variety

    Carignan , Graciano , Grenache , Red Blend , Tempranillo

  • Vintage

    2008

  • Size

    750ml

  • Farming Practice

    Organic

  • Style

    Earthy , Elegant , Rich

  • Sweetness

    Dry

  • Body

    Medium Bodied

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