R. López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva "Viña Tondonia"
R. López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva "Viña Tondonia"

R. López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva "Viña Tondonia"

Rioja Alta, Spain 2011 (750mL)
Regular price$59.00

R. López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva "Viña Tondonia"

There are benchmark producers, and then there are legends. Take R. López de Heredia, the producer that most any wine expert would single out as the most important, region-defining in Rioja. Their labyrinthine cellars, filled to bursting with ancient barrels and wine stocks, hold the key to understanding this magisterial region, and today we bring you their signature cuvée. López’s “Viña Tondonia” 2011 is a single-bottle encapsulation of Rioja’s grandeur—an amalgamation of gleaming fruit and leathery earth, velvety texture, thrilling tertiary flavors and age-worthy structure. Lopez ages Tondonia for more than 10 years in its cellars before releasing it, so it comes out the gate in prime drinking condition, yet this is still a wine that will age in your cellar for as long as you can keep your hands off it. Tondonia from the ’60s is still drinking beautifully today, and this masterful 2011 is a prime candidate for 20+ more years of aging. That kind of upside is rarely (if ever) seen in this price range, so we suggest you go deep to have plenty on hand in the decades to come!

Nearly every aspect of López de Heredia makes them stand out in the Rioja landscape. We love a great many producers in this region, and will continue to offer them, but Lopez’s position as the torchbearer for tradition here is undeniable. Since their founding in 1877, they’ve been continuously family-owned, which stands in sharp contrast to the other linchpin producers they rub shoulders with. Those other producers also largely rely on fruit purchased from other growers, but not so with López; their wines come entirely from estate fruit they’ve farmed themselves, as has been the case for over 100 years. And in the cellar their methods remain staunchly old school. No cultured yeasts, no stainless steel vats, and not a single stave of new oak will be found here. A walk through the cellars at Lopez is like stepping back in time: Electricity was probably the newest technology to be introduced. 

“Viña Tondonia” comes entirely from a single vineyard, another rarity in a region where “house styles” tend to be prized over terroir expression. Tondonia is their most famous vineyard, a depression just to the east of the Ebro river. You’ll find heavy clay soils underlain with ancient limestone, perhaps explaining why the resulting wines so deftly combine power and elegance. The 2011 is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha (Grenache), 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo (Carignan). In the cellar, they take things far beyond the typical one year in barrel and two in bottle most Rioja Reserva gets. The wine is placed in very old—as in 30+-years-old—American oak for three years, and then it rests in bottle for no less than seven years, only being released when the Lopez family decides the time is right. 

The finished wine is a stunner from the first sip. It pours a lucid ruby with very slight bricking at the edges. The nose brings a plethora of red and purple fruits—crushed raspberry, plum skin, black cherry pit, dried cranberry, dried red currant—alongside beguiling tertiary notes like cedar, fresh leather, cigar box, cured tobacco, and baking spice. The texture here is thrilling, the depth of fruit belying its warm-climate origins, but the structure is defined by freshness and delineation above all else. The 2011 is firing on all cylinders, one of the very best “young” Tondonia bottlings we’ve ever had, and we know from first-hand experience that a vintage like this is going to perform well far, far into the future. So load up and bask in the glory that is Lopez de Heredia!

R. López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva "Viña Tondonia"

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