R.López de Herdia are one of Spain’s greatest, most traditional bodegas, founded in 1877 they were one of the first three bodegas in Rioja, following Murrieta (1852) and Riscal (1858). Still family owned and now run by the fourth generation, they have produced wine in the same way for well over a hundred years and remain a stylistic bastion for Rioja’s wines.
Though I have tasted the wines of R. López de Herdia (or Tondonia as many people refer to them) on many occasions in the past, this was the first time I’d been able to compare a cross section of their wines over a number of decades and the first time I’d laid my lips on their very rare and sought after rosé.
I won’t go into detail on the bodegas history, vineyards or wine making in this post, they have a great website that covers this and I plan on visiting the estate later this year so will report back after that. Here I’ll offer you my thoughts and some background on the wines that we drank.
First off the bat, and I don’t know how shocking this is but…. The white wines smashed it and dominated this tasting, clearly over shadowing the reds with a greater complexity and interest (for me at least) than the reds. Though due to the oxidative character these whites may not offer mass appeal, if you are a fan of oxidised wines such as those from Jura or Sherry then you will love these wines.
Viña Gravonia Crianza 2004
(Viura) £18.95 Swig
Great nose showing lemon oil, fresh linen, honey poured on walnuts and vanilla yoghurt with passion fruit then with a bit of time in the glass you also get smoky peach and fresh pine needle, waxy and complex.
Has a lovely texture in the mouth, creamy but with lift, in no way flabby. Great mid palate with snappy lemon fruit and a richness on the finish.
Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1996
(Viura, Malvasia) £29.99 Wine Bear
Wonderfully rich and creamy nose with a more opulent tropical character than the Gravonia, ripe Brie rind, caramel and lemon curd.
Great balance on the palate with a fine line of acidity cutting through the rich mouthfeel with a clean finish showing lemon sherbet and mango.
Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1987
(Viura, Malvasia) £59.49 Baron Wines
Unique nose that is dominated by lime blossom and green coffee bean, oak flake and tea leaf and a meaty note that is somewhere between white pudding and duck liver paté, bay leaves and bergamot.
Again there is a great balance in the mouth with lightly oxidised stone fruit, rounded though rather linear.
Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1976
(Viura, Malvasia) £136 Dudley-Jones Fine Wines
On the nose there is a great complexity of nuttiness, walnut husk, smoky wood notes along with a bruised orchard fruit and Seville orange marmalade character.
Palate hides the age of this wine well with a sprightly acidity, punchy apple skin and lemon pith, still very fresh.
Viña Tondonia Roasado Crianza 1993
(Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura) N/A
A gentle yet caressing nose of dried rose petals, dried cranberry and fresh red grapefruit with a touch of smoke, quite meaty with a flighty stone and soil character.
In the mouth this would be hard to gauge, age wise, herbal and still quite fresh, firm, classy with some dried red berry fruit and a slight nutty note. This reminded me more of an orange wine rather than any rose I’ve ever tried and is a great food wine that would work well with everything from charcuterie to more spicy dishes.
Viña cubillo Crianza 2005
(Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano) £17.49 Wine Bear
Classy red fruit on the nose with sweet redcurrant and rich strawberry, suave,upfront and attractive fruit though rather straight laced.
In the mouth it is well rounded with grippy ripe tannin and firm red fruit, strawberry dominated finish.
Viña Bosconia Tinto Crianza 1990
(Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano) £N/A in U.K
This wine comes from the El Bosque vineyard located 1km from the winery at an elevation of 465m, the 15ha plot is planted on a mix of clay and limestone soils to 11ha Tempranillo, 2ha Garnacha, 1ha Mazuelo and 1ha Graciano. The Burgundy style bottle is from a wine called ‘Rioja Cepa Borgoña’ that they used to make with a high percentage of Pinot Noir.
I found the wine to be rather attractive straight out the bottle though it seemed to fade pretty quickly with time in glass. The nose showed dried flowers, hoisin and balsamic notes along with dried blackberry, blackcurrant, subtle autumnal notes and hint of smoky BBQ sauce.
Though not would you call fresh there was enough lift on the palate making this soft and very approachable with smoky plum, blackcurrant and dried blueberry.
Viña Tondonia Tinto Gran Reserva 1985
(Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano) £128.59 Fine & Rare
Expressive nose of dehydrated strawberry, autumn leaves with plenty of weight and oomph, mushroom, truffle, blueberry, wet tobacco leaf and an oregano lead herbaceous-nous.
In the mouth there is a sweetness to the dried, well endowed red berry fruit which seems quite youthful with a sharp acidic twist to the redcurrant and cranberry led finish which is fresh and dry.
Viña Tondonia Tinto Gran Reserva 1976
(Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano) £335 Fine + Rare
The nose here, though more evolved is even plusher than the 85’ showing notes of beef jerky, Bovril and well worn saddle leather.
In the mouth this is rather thin and spindly but has great palate intensity with charred black fruit, hoi-sin and BBQ character, a muddy old gent with a long tertiary finish.
Wines tasted on Wednesday 8th April 2015 at The West London Wine School