Lopez de Heredia release Tondonia Reserva 2006

Lopez de Heredia release Tondonia Reserva 2006
Bodegas Lopez de Heredia is the oldest winery in Haro and a bastion of traditional, old-school Rioja. Born out of the Bordelais’ quest to find new sources of grapes as phylloxera decimated French vineyards in the late nineteenth century, Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta soon realised that he had a very special vineyard in the form of Vina Tondonia, and decided to do it himself.

Tondonia has all the hallmarks of a first class site, being situated at an altitude of up to 480m on alluvial clay and limestone, and flanked by the River Ebro, which provides a natural border between the sub-regions of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alevesa. It yields a high toned, ethereal style of Rioja that has enthralled Spanish wine lovers for generations. Mature Tondonia bottles, dressed in traditional Spanish livery, are reference points for the region, and remain an absolute hidden gem in fine wine world. As other historic Rioja wineries have steadily acceded to external investment, and winemaking trends have been and gone, Lopez de Heredia is one of the few that remains family owned and totally committed to producing heritage-style wines. Fermentations are carried out in huge, ancient wooden vats, with no temperature control (save for opening and closing the winery doors!), before long-term ageing in American oak barriques buried deep in the “Cathedral” under the winery. Enormous pride is placed in having their own cooperage, where their barrels are still made by hand. Wood, though, is intended to support, never dominate, and the wines are characterised by a brisk and vibrant core: the combination of limestone rich soils and a gentle hand in the winery. Succulent, sweet red fruits; tart raspberry cherry stone and fresh strawberry are common descriptors, developing leather, iodine and autumn sensations with air. The best Tondonia vintages are some of the most complex and longest-lived wines of all, as a recent bottle of Reserva 1964 can attest to. Tondonia deserves a place in every cellar, and whilst brilliant today, the latest Tondonia Reserva 2006 will be truly magical in a decade or more.