2006 Bodega R. Lopez de Heredia, Rioja, Vina Tondonia Reserva, Haro, Spain.
One of the world’s great wines and a traditional classic producer, Lopez de Heredia’s Vina Tondonia Reserva is always a special treat and this 2006 is absolutely delicious and drinking wonderfully right now with supple texture and incredible length, its mature layers reward the palate with its graceful fruit and seamless complexity. Made from about 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho (Grenache/Garnacha), along with small amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo all from Lopez de Heredia’s own prime vineyards. These Vina Tondonia’s see almost 6 years of barrel aging with two rankings per year and gentle egg whites fining for clarification with a special selection of American oak being used in the under ground and cool cellars. One of the Rioja regions visionaries, Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta planted the Viña Tondonia between 1913 and 1914, believing Rioja Alta was the best area for quality grapes at the time and very clearly this was proven out and Vina Tondonia has become one of Spain’s most famous vineyards. Vina Tondonia, set near the Ebro River, has a continental warm climate, but with cooling influences from the higher elevation which allows sublime grape ripening and fantastic aging potential, as these Lopez de Heredia wines show. The soil here is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone, again proving perfect elements for great wines and terroir character.
In a week of focusing on Spain, this wine was certainly a treasured highlight with its gorgeous mouth feel and First Growth Bordeaux like depth, this is a brilliant effort to be enjoyed over the next 5 to 10 years, if you could wait. The 2006 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva starts with fabulous mature flavors of a perfectly aged wine with the unfolding of dried berries, floral tones, sweet toasty oak and delicate spices before the a sharper picture emerges with black raspberry, cherry, currant and plum fruits along with touches of vanilla, candied orange peel, coconut, tobacco leaf, cedar and subtle anise. This classic and poised Rioja is a hugely satisfying wine that just gets better and better with every sip adding hints of mocha, chalky stone and earthy elements, this was a majestic experience in the glass and one I hope to repeat. There is a lot to love coming from Lopez de Heredia, along with this gorgeous Vina Tondonia Reserva, there is a stellar lineup of Riojas to chose from and one should never miss the chance to try these wines, the reds are of course the most sought after, but the whites are also outstanding and some of the most unique offerings in the old world and their aged Rosé or Rosado is also a not to miss bottling. I have been a long time fan of these Lopez de Heredia wines and I still marvel at the quality and value here, like this Vina Tondonia 2006, which could easily sell for twice the price and be a bargain, I highly recommend exploring the latest releases.
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive