Wine Article

1991 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia

Last edited on 4/12/2010 by jjoyce
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From Distributor Website:

Little about López de Heredia has changed in the 125 years since its founding. The family adheres to a winemaking doctrine blueprinted in the 1880’s — to make wine only from their own vineyards, using natural yeasts, long aging in wood, and no filtration at bottling.

The winery and vineyards, some of the first in the region, are located in the Alta Rioja’s capital city, Haro. Unlike most of its competitors, now owned by outside investors, López de Heredia is owned—and every detail of its operation is handled—by the family who founded it. The bodega is now in the capable hands of the family’s youngest generation, Maria José, Mercedes, and Julio Cèsar.

López de Heredia’s greatest wines are their two red Gran Reservas—Viña Tondonia and Viña Bosconia — aged 6 to 8 years in immaculate old barrels, which mellows the fruit, allows for natural clarification, and gives the wines a wonderful complexity. But even after these Gran Reservas are bottled, they’re not ready for sale; López de Heredia often keeps them a decade more before shipping a bottle.

Tondonia, Gravonia, and Bosconia refer to single-vineyard designated sites from which the winery grows all their fruit. The blends from year-to-year do not vary much.

The Tondonia reds are a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha (Grenache), and 10% Manzuela and Graciano, the classic Rioja proportions. The backbone is provided by Tempranillo since it is the most balanced varietal in Rioja. Its aging-capabilities and alcohol content are derived from the Garnacha, while the acidity and color come from the Graciano and Manzuela grapes. Of the last two varieties, Graciano is a high-yielding vine in which the grapes never reach full maturity, while Manzuela has a very long ripening cycle and also rarely reaches maturity; both therefore provide the acidity for which Lopez wines are famous. Gran Reserva wines are chosen especially for particularly great vintages.

If you haven’t tasted traditional style Rioja – we mean no chemicals, no pesticides, no chaptalization, no machines, only hand-harvesting, only hand-racking with oak funnels, and 4 barrel-makers on staff, etc., etc. – Lopez should be at the top of your list.