Lopez Heredia viejaWe’ve been fans of Bodegas R. Lopez Heredia Rioja wines since we tasted our first bottle back in 1986. A benchmark producer, their wines transmit grace, silkiness and incredible complexity.  One of the most traditional wineries in Rioja, fruit for their wines comes exclusively from their own vineyards, and they ferment with naturally occurring yeast.   Aging is done in their own neutral barrels and foudres which their in-house cooper maintains, and the wines age for easily twice as long as other wineries.

2008 Viña Tondonia Rosado Rioja Gran Reserva, ($29.99). 8 bottles available    It’s been well over 10 years since we’ve had a bottle of Viña Tondonia Rosado in stock, but as of today we have 8 bottles of the new release!  This wine is completely unlike any other rosé on the market; for starters, it is actually a claret, a blend of red and white grapes (60% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo and 10% Viura).   Aged in neutral barrel for four years, it is unfiltered and has aged an additional six years in the bottle before release.   Very dry, layered and savory, drinking it is an absolute experience.  Here’s what Wine Advocate has to say about this wine:  “There are always spicy and musky notes of cinnamon and dried flowers with a nutty twist, which the winery likes to describe as “halfway between a white and a red.” It has an orange, onion-skin color with an unusual, characterful nose, a thousand miles removed from any rosé in the world, with notes of cinnamon, almonds and dried rose petals, but it feels still very young and it can develop more aromas in the bottle. The palate has sharp acidity and pungent flavors, which make the wine very long and persistent.”  vina gravonia94 points Wine Advocate.

We’ve also received a limited amount of Lopez Heredia white wines.  Unfortunately, as the winery expands their market to Asia without adding vineyards, the availability has diminished and the wines are now allocated.  In the good old days, we were able to stock as much of their wines as we wanted to.   And we did – we are incredible fans of these wines!
2008 Viña Gravonia Crianza Rioja Blanco ($28.99), 18 bottles available.  ” The first white I tasted was the 2008 Viña Gravonia Blanco, a true bargain for a traditional oak-aged Rioja from very old Viura vines (90 years old!) on gravel soils. 2008 was a healthy vintage, which resulted in a slightly smaller crop than 2007, and the white grapes were picked starting on October 9th. They have never added yeasts to their wines, and this fermented in centenary oak vats and matured in used barriques for four years. It was bottled unfiltered. It has the right balance between youth and freshness and the more-developed aromas. The notes of dried flowers, honey, nuts and petrol are intermixed with aromas of quince, medlar and other yellow fruit, with hints of saffron and spices, quite developed. The palate is very tasty, and it ends with a salty finish. This is a cool vintage, where the wines show very good freshness. They do their blends to achieve a homogeneous style that shows the fresh and mineral character of the Gravonia vineyard. Year in, year out, this is one of the greatest bargains in Rioja and Spain. They produced some 17,800 bottles, which were filled in November 2013.”  94 points Wine Advocate

vina tondonia white queso2005 Viña Tondonia Reserva Rioja Blanco ($48.00) 12 bottles available    “The 2005 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva is a fine and elegant wine inspired by the vineyards of Graves in Bordeaux. 2005 was an excellent vintage, when 154 hectares of vineyards from the 170 they own were in production. The grapes were picked before the rains of October 12th. This is mostly Viura (Macabeo), but it always contains some 10% Malvasía Riojana, and the white varieties are always planted on whiter, limestone-rich soils. It matured in used oak barriques for six years before bottling. María José and Mercedes López de Heredia told me their Viura, with the low yields they get (often 2,000 kilograms per hectare), shows less of the vintage differences, and even in torrid years like 2003, the wines do not show heat. It’s very interesting comparing this with the Gravonia from 2008, as this showed higher ripeness and a lot more developed aromas, nuttier with hints of hay and straw, honey and also chamomile and dried flowers. But the oak is never obvious in the wine, it only adds spiciness but no wood aromas. 2005 was also a warmer, riper and more powerful vintage, which shows more in the palate, which is round and powerful with pungent flavors.”  95 points Wine Advocate

Vina tondonia & chop1995 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja  ($116.00) “1995 was an excellent and early harvest, the grapes achieved full ripeness and were harvested under the sun during two weeks starting October 9. The wine, which exceptionally achieved 13% alcohol, is the usual blend, 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo (Cariñena). Like all their wines, it fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak vats and as a Gran Reserva it matured in old American oak barrels for ten years! Yes, it was bottled in November 2006 and launched in 2015, a full 20 years after the harvest. This light-colored, ethereal 1995 is the essence of Viña Tondonia. It has developed aromas and complexity gained with the time in bottle, of incense, leather, cured meat, cherries in liqueur, cold bonfire and spices. The palate is super-tasty, with fully-resolved tannins and very good acidity. The texture is super-fine, sophisticated and ethereal with gob-smacking balance. Intense, powerful and elegant, too. Hard to believe, but this red feels too young and while approachable, I’d wait a couple of years or more because it will be much better. The profile follows the style of the great classics of the 1950s and 60s. Bottles like this are the ones that created the López de Heredia myth. This could be lighter than the 1994, but in the long run I believe the 1995 will be the better bottle.”  97 points Wine Advocate

Vina Tondonia1996 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rioja Blanco ($116.00) 3 bottles available  “1996 Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva is a wine crafted to show the longevity of the wines produced with the grapes from the Tondonia vineyard in Haro. It follows the same path as the other Grandes Reservas, being a blend of grapes (mostly Viura and some 10% Malvasía Riojana) and up to 15% of wine from other vintages used to refill the barrels during the extended ten-year aging. This is more subtle than the 1994 (which scored 96 points), and is also lighter..”  95 points Wine Advocate

vina alberdi reserva2012 La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva ($21.99) is back in stock.  100% Tempranillo, aged two years in oak.    This lovely wine is a favorite among the staff.   It’s excellent with paella, roast lamb, even burgers.   Bright and balanced with spice and notes of earth, it is a fantastic value.   “The aging lasted two years, the first one in new American oak barrels and the second in used ones. It felt livelier than the 2011. This 2012 has some aromas of raw meat, with marked toast from the American oak (all the American oak barrels are built by their own coopers), with a good combination of fruit and spice, tradition and modernity. It’s trois cochons saucisson sec cepesapproachable and easy to drink, but a little more time in bottle should polish it even further.”  90+ points Wine Advocate

Les Trois Petits Cochons Sliced Saucisson Sec Aux Cepes (Air dried Saucisson with Porcini Mushrooms), $6.49, oz package.  Add this to your next meat and cheese platter!  With a buttery texture, earthy note of mushrooms and subtle spice notes.  Nitrate free, no artificial ingredients.

Sharon's paella in contestWe’re sharing some inspiring pictures of the Spain Association’s paella cooking contest from last Sunday.   pintxo paellaOur paella did not win, but as always, the event was really fun and the paellas were amazing.  tablas paellaWe encourage everyone to start planning your paella recipe now and enter next year!