2008 Lopez de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Red, Rioja Reserva 2008

$57.99

James Suckling 95/00: Lots of dried fruit with plum, light raisin, chocolate and toasted oak. Some balsamic undertones. White truffles and dried flowers. Medium body, creamy tannins and savory, balsamic undertones. Extreme and unique, as always. Drink now.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 95/00: 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.

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Description

Lopez de Heredia – one of the most venerable producers in Spain– produces traditional, age-worthy Rioja. Their wines are legendary and still made the way they were when the winery was founded over 130 years ago. Following a tradition that has been passed down through generations, their wines are released at least 5-10 years after harvest, which provides added complexity and elegance to their Crianzas and Gran Reservas.

A rarity in Rioja, Lopez de Heredia uses only estate bottled fruit from their prized vineyards- Tondonia, Cubillo, Bosconia, and Zaconia- with the idea that the only way to get the best fruit is to care for the vines themselves. The Tondonia vineyard is their most famous; over 100 hectares, it is situated in a shell-shaped depression on the right bank of the river Ebro, where the most typical Rioja wines are grown. The soil is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone. Average vine age is 45 years old and organic farming and natural fermentations are implemented, creating wines that exhibit great terroir. Grapes from Viña Tondonia are always used in making their highest quality wines, with truly exceptional vintages becoming Gran Reservas. The first Reserva was bottled by the founder in 1890; a few bottles of this are still kept in the family wine museum.

The winery itself is a remarkable structure. When D. Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta began building the bodega in the late 1800’s, little did he realise that his masterpiece would one day be acknowledged as an example to the rest of the industry of the most perfect combination of buildings and vineyards. Like many medieval masterpieces it is still incomplete. The buildings stand below and above ground, and are a veritable “cathedral to wine”. Moving through the vaulted underground corridors and staircases, you find yourself travelling back in time, and the founder’s touch can still be sensed in the very stones and fabric of the building.

Don Rafael López de Heredia acquired the Tondonia vineyard from a group of clergy in 1913. Situated on the right bank of the river Ebro, in Rioja Alta, it stretches over 247 acres; the soil is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone. There are 4 varieties of red grapes planted in this vineyard—Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Garnacho—as well as a few acres of white grapes (Viura and Malvasia) planted in the whitest soils, from which R. López de Heredia makes their Tondonia Blanco.

Tondonia represents the bulk of their production.

As with all wines produced by the bodega at the time (Viña Zaconia, Viña Medokkia and Viña Bosconia), Don Rafael López de Heredia named Viña Tondonia after the old term for this large meander on the River Ebro in which it is situated, Tondon (from Latin retondo). The proximity of the Viña Tondonia estate invites the visitor to stroll down the old mediaeval road that led to the Basque Country from La Rioja, crossing the Briñas Bridge. Viña Tondonia is in fact a group of vineyards belonging to the bodega, located in the meander of River Ebro, that were bought and amalgamated by our founder.

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