Words are merely a tool for communication, a very useful tool of course but at the end a word with no force behind it is just a meaningless sound. What makes, therefore, a word, or in this case “Tradition”, much more than just a simple word? When there is an actual force behind this word, when it becomes much more than a descriptor and turns into passion, duty, and dedication. Why is this important, especially in wine?
|Cellars at R. Lopez de Heredia where Time Stood Still|
Wine, to me, shouldn’t only be a simple beverage, but rather something much more complex. Wine should express a sense of place, extract the essence of the ground from where it comes from, and express the philosophy of the people who make it rather than that of a critic sitting thousands of miles away.
Without tradition, there is no force holding old philosophies in place. There is no keeping in line with the customs from where the wine comes from. The voice of the terroir, and most importantly the people behind it start to lose their essence, and become part of the globalized community, sharing similar tastes and wants. If everyone were the same, we will start to lose our humanity.
Recently, the biggest annual wine fair conducted in
The winemaking techniques are traditional, many if not all machines in use today come from long ago. Their philosophy of “why fix something if it’s not broken” is much more than practical, rather respectful and purposeful. You will find many producers making classic styled Rioja, however they lack that purity and depth that can only be seen in wines from López de Heredia.
|Julio Cesar Lopez de Heredia and Myself|
R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1993
Haro, Rioja Alta, Rioja
The color of the wine itself attracts you to jump in and enjoy it, bright golden yellow with a slight hint of green on the rim. The aromas are simply amazing; this isn’t your typical white wine.
On the forefront there’s a generous dose of apricots, peaches, poached pears, a touch of pineapple that give way to an interesting volatile acid meets premature oxidation aroma. This is not at all, in my opinion, a fault but rather adds appeal and character to the wine. With time more aromas appear, peppers, spices, smoke, and roasted walnuts. As the wine enters the palate, it gives way to a well developed structure; its weight and presence which is often hard to achieve in white wines.
The initial flavors boast citric notes, mangos, pineapple giving way to some savory nutty flavors on the mid-palate that last up to the finish. The acid level is quite refreshing, cleanses the palate and makes you want to drink more. This is perhaps the most perplexing white wine I’ve had to date, it so different it just makes you think and admire it. 93 non blind (
R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva Tinto 2001
Haro, Rioja Alta, Rioja
Great color on the eye, with a nice dark translucent core and ruby red rim with slight bricking. The nose reveals an aged wine, it has a slight touch of old world wine dustiness meets animal hide that quickly dissipates. The aromas are quite focused, a potpourri of amazing aromas with sour red fruits, tobacco, leather, smoke, spices, and some oak on the end.
On the palate the attack is dominated by intense flavors sour cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and as the wine progresses toward the mid-palate a denser dark fruit flavor arises. The intensity increases and secondary flavors arise, roasted meat, smoke, and spices flow through the finish leaving a long after taste. The wine is a sturdy mid-bodied wine that is seamless, and quite smooth. It possesses great vibrant acidity and soft tannins on the end that make it enjoyable, and a food friendly wine. 92 non blind (
R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Tinto 1994
Haro, Rioja Alta, Rioja
This wine was just an ethereal experience to all my senses. The wine still exhibited an undying youth, with a dark black core and dark red rim that’s about to turn into brick orange. The nose is a literal explosion, such depth, precision, and beauty, the epitome of traditional Rioja; great purity of fruit on the attack, with leather, licorice, menthol, incense, and Indian spices.
The flavors, although similar, are deeper and more pronounced than the regular Reserva bottling. Great dark fruit on the attack, with sour cherries and raspberries on the mid-palate, dark chocolate, various spices, and a touch of crushed rock on the end. The flavors persist for a long time, coating every corner of your palate. This Gran Reserva is on a different level, it has an incredible amount of depth, an elegant body and smooth texture. 96 non blind (