1998 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado (Rosé)

August 09 2010 - 12:01 PM

Lopez de Heredia, as a vineyard from the north central Rioja region of Spain, is an enigma.  Stubbornly refusing to change, yet making fantastically good wines that many see as being cutting edge.   The label has changed very little over the years, and even my empty 1954 bottle looks almost identical to today’s, though they replaced the Burgundy-style bottle with a Bordeaux shape.

Their rosado (rosé) on the shelves of wine shops is twelve years old, something worth re-emphasizing, as rosés in general are often meant to be drunk the year or two after harvest.   Rioja’s Denominacion de Origen Calificada Inflatable Water Slide stipulates that Gran Reservas spend two years in oak and three in bottle and is a moniker generally reserved for reds.  The Vina Tondonia, however, spent four years in mostly old American oak barrels and the rest in bottle.    In addition, it is not released every year, a decision made largely due to the conditions surrounding the vintage.

Rioja wines, as in the rest of Europe, were at one time more oxidated due to antiquated production methods.  This wine is no exception, giving off sherry notes that largely are the result of oxidization.   The reward, however, is a long, complex finish with blood orange on the front palate, followed by coconut and orange peel.   Typically rosés tend to show strawberry notes, though this taste was not apparent here.    It is also very dry and acidic, and it shows promise for aging.  It is 60 percent Garnacha, 30 percent Tempranillo, and 10 percent Viura, and has a reasonable alcohol percentage of 12.5.

I served this with chipotle burgers, and though the wine went well with spicy food it also needs to be shown on its own.  This can be bought at Binny’s for $22.99.