Lopez de Heredia: We Cellar, You Drink
López de Heredia is the greatest name in Rioja, known for its traditional practices, ancient cellars and the outstanding wines it produces. In a region like Rioja, long aging is understood to be part of the process — Crianzas, Reservas and Gran Reservas are all defined by the amount of time the wine spends aging first in barrel and then in bottle. López de Heredia takes this to the extreme, dismissing the legal requirements and adopting whatever processes will make for the highest quality wine.
If another winery made a wine like López’s Tondonia Reserva, they’d most likely call it their Gran Reserva, but López chooses to age their top wines two or more decades. Tondonia Reserva rested in barrel (old American oak) — the barrels made by their in-house cooper — for 6 years, then rested in the bottle until its release in early 2023. It's a rare practice that allows us to savor a perfectly cellared wine when it is perfectly ready to drink.
2011 was a powerhouse vintage in Rioja, the kind that benefits from long aging. How convenient and thoughtful it was for López to cellar the wine for us. It’s just now entering its prime drinking window: its powerful structure is beginning to integrate, its intense flavors are starting to meld. But López’s wines are known for their aging potential, and we think the 2011 Tondonia has enough power and backbone to hold up for many more decades.
Single vineyard wines are rare in Rioja, but from its inception, each wine at López has been exactly that. The Tondonia vineyard abuts the Ebro river; the soil here is alluvial clay, with a high proportion of limestone. The 19th century founders were heavily influenced by the classics of French wine, especially Bordeaux. It's no surprise that the gravelly, clay-rich soils of Tondonia yield a wine so evocative of Bordeaux, with its flavors of cassis, tobacco, licorice and spice box.
Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Vina Tondonia 2011 $59.99
This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.