Another post confessing my undying love for the wines of López de Heredia…..my appetite for them is edacious, all consuming and to be honest….a bit of a concern.
I tried this particular wine (besides at the estate last year) a month or so back in Sydney. It was for a yearly gathering/tasting/dinner at the beach house of an Australian wine importer/distributor….what is great about this particular yearly event is it is an even split of some of the old hands in the wine industry and the younger upstarts and troublemakers…. a mix of wine writers, sommeliers, retailers, distributors, wine-makers and importers….it’s a real hodge-podge and always a fantastic weekend.
The theme for the dinner was “The greatest wines in the world that aren’t Grand Crus or First Growths”. I had dragged two bottles of the wine from the depths of my wine fridge to Sydney and was pleasantly surprised to see that both were in super condition when we popped the corks.
It was great to see peoples reactions when they sniffed and slurped the wine…..a smile would come over their faces….a kind of beatific grin like when you settle into a favourite armchair in front of the fire…… all comfortable and instantly soothing and familiar. The nodding of heads, the clinking of glasses…. a toast to producing wines in a traditional manner and lots of “they don’t make wines like that anymore” sort of talk… and that’s spot on…they just don’t.
López de Heredia have a grand history and are true traditionalists…..it’s a beautiful estate…very large at some 53,000 square metres and at any one time there around around 13,000 barrels in their underground cellars.
The wine itself is a blend of Viura (90%) and Malvasia (10%) grown on the Viña Tondonia estate…..the winery itself overlooks the estate which lies on a peninsula formed my the meandering River Ebro that flows sluggishly through Rioja……it’s a terrific vineyard with soils consisting of limestone and alluvial deposits……there is a nice picture and some information on the Viña Tondonia estate here.
It’s harvested by hand, pressed in traditional basket presses and fermented in large old oak vats before spending an extended elevage (9 years) in old American oak before bottling. Post-bottling the wine receives an extended rest in the cool cellars below the winery until it is deemed ready for release.
Medium gold in hue….ohhh….hang on….lets quickly talk about the bottle…..I love it. Old school stylee with the wire wrap and wax dipped cork…….and barely any ullage at all.
Dreamy aromas of dried fruits, candied citrus peel and fennel initially before the complexity swells with hints of lanolin, candle wax, dried honey, dried flowers, oyster jus, minerals, spice and stone fruits. There are wafts of brine, marzipan, grilled nuts and green olives as you drive your nose down into the glass trying to get your head around the myriad of vapours constantly morphing in the glass.
In the mouth the wine is still energetic with a pure, driven line of citrus and stone fruit…..quite full-bodied yet light on its feet with an airy display of almond paste, orange rind, wool, grilled nuts, minerals and flowers sheathed in stone and spice. It comes wrapped in a filigreed, lace-work of nervy acidity and the finish lingers persistently with a heady, complex vapor trail.
An epic, mesmerising wine.
Price: $250 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 12.5% – Source: Cellar – Importer: Toro Wines
Embarrassingly someone snapped the following photo of me in full tasting regalia when I realised both bottles of the 1987 Gran Reserva were empty….I have recovered some composure now.