A Great Stash of Fine Old Wine from Rioja

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We grew up in a Francophile world of wine; we had hardly ever tasted old Rioja before our introduction in 2001 to Lopez-Heredia. Anyone who has been lucky enough to taste those wines will testify to their splendor in old age. Being Francophiles, the finesse and depth of the Lopez wines reminded us of fine vintages of old Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion in particular. This isn’t too surprising, given the cross-pollination* between Bordeaux and Rioja, and the taste parallels between old Cab blends and old Tempranillo, but we hadn’t realized that Rioja could age on a similar trajectory to that of Bordeaux.  In a haphazard way we’ve since added to our experience of old Rioja, with fantastic bottles of CVNE, Riojanas, La Rioja Alta, Murrieta, etc. These are special wines, and it’s wonderful that they’re still what must be considered, these days, to be reasonably priced. Hard times in Spain may offer some explanation for our luck in finding these bottles, all from properly cellared private collections, and all offered with our guarantee.

*Very briefly stated: in the 1850s, the arrival in France of oidium (a type of mildew that ruins grapes) and then phylloxera in the 1860s, impelled Bordeaux winemakers to move to Spain; among other innovations, they introduced aging in small wood barrels. By the 1870s France was a huge market for Rioja; this success meant that most of the great historical names in Rioja winemaking were established by 1890. Then the vine maladies arrived in Spain, while at the same time the French vineyards began to recover…

 

 

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Lopez de Heredia 1970 Rioja Gran Reserva Tondonia

Youthful color with nose of dark fruits. Very primary, animal nose but with some serious fruit. Palate was deep and very concentrated and also youthful. Amazing that this is over thirty years old. Really mouthfilling and lacey with a great finish. This is showing great but has ALOT of time to get better. LF

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López de Heredia 1991 Rioja Gran Reserva Blanco Tondonia

According to the winery, 1991 was one of the best years in the Tondonia vineyard's history. The Gran Reserva Blanco is 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia, aged 10 years in barrel and 10 years in bottle. Exceptional clarity and finesse define this complex and filligreed white. Delicate but marked acidity intertwines with racy citrus zests, hazelnut, subtle beeswax and layers of minerality for a demure and silky expression that will tantalize any lover of Lopez. Ariana Rolich

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