You would think that I might be over López de Heredia by now.  Well I’m not.  And the dinner at NYC’s Craft confirmed why the wines of López de Heredia are so great.  It was thrown in conjunction with Le Du Wines and Monica Nogues of Think Global Wines, the agent for the wines of López de Heredia.  Other than the charming López de Heredia sisters Maria Jose and Mercedes, Monica is probably the person who knows the wines the best.  And she is as charming as they are to boot.  The food at Craft was pretty great, and it all paired very well with the wines.  And as it should as they are all excellent food wines.  The room was filled with some folks who knew the wines of López de Heredia, but there were many guests trying the wines for the first time.  It is so great to see the reaction to the wines by first timers.  The couple next to us were so taken with the wines, as well as the history and philosophy of the bodega, that they committed to buying a mixed case before they even left the table!  I had tried many of the wines before, but trying them again side by side and with a lovely meal revealed even more appreciation for the absolute level of quality across all the wines.  There really was not a weak wine in the bunch to be honest.  I would like to say I could pick out a favorite, but I really couldn’t.  I think that as a range of wines, there really is something for any occasion.  And while the Gran Reserva wines get pricey, the rest of the range or Reserva and Crianza wines are actually quite affordable given the quality.  The Reservas and Crianza are what are meant for drinking on a regular basis anyway, and the Gran Reservas are truly rare and are best enjoyed on special occasions.  The Gran Reservas have only be produced in the very best vintages, so only 30 something times in the past 130 years.  I am going to give a quick recap of the wines at the dinner and a few tasting notes, but if you have not tried the wines of López de Heredia, you really do owe it to your self to find a bottle and let the journey begin.  All the wines come highly recommended so I am not even going to bother with writing it after each one…

Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 2000 ~$25.00

I have tasted this Rosé before on a couple of occasions, but I admit I had glossed over it in favor of the whites and the reds in the past.  It really made an impression on me at this tasting.  Probably the most aged Rosé in the world, the 2000, at 11 years old, is the current release.  It is a blend of Viura which is used to make the whites, and Tempranillo and Garnacha which are used to make the reds.  It is very complex with elements of both a white and a red wine.  It drinks fantastic on its own, but also pairs very well with food.  I kind of feel in love with it.  The bad news is that the wine was made in 2000 but not again until the 2008 vintage.  So once the 2000 is gone it is going to be many years before we see this wine again.  I know I am getting a couple bottles immediately. 

Viña Gravonia Blanco Crianza 2001 ~$25.00

Dollar for dollar, this is probably my favorite wine from López de Heredia.  It never fails to deliver a unique white wine experience and is always the wine that first timers are just blown away by.  Just a lovely classic mix of almonds and minerality.  Again, this one drinks well on its own, but can handle a broad range of food.

Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1993 ~$45.00

For what you would pay for a current release higher end California Chardonnay, you could get this 18 year old beauty.  I think the wine is a steal at ~$45.00.  It is layers of almonds and pears and is so utterly fresh despite its complexity.  I think the age of the whites from López de Heredia scares many people that think white wines need to be drunk when young.  Many do, but these certainly do not.

Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1987 ~$95.00

This was a very singular wine.  I have had the 1970 bottling, and that was the best white wine I have ever had.  I would say it had even more freshness that the 1987, but it came directly out of the cellars at López de Heredia.  That said, this bottle was off the hook!  The most striking note was the briny factor.  There is a nose of cured olives, baked puff pastry, and solid minerality.  My buddy Aaron commented that it reminded him of a dirty martini.

Viña Cubillo Crianza 2005 ~$25.00

For the reds, the Cubillo represents fantastic value.  This Crianza wine from López is aged as long as many peoples Reserva.  And you can taste it.  It has such depth complexity and elegance for a ~$25.00 bottle of wine.  All the classic elements of Rioja are there with hints of menthol, leather, and bright cherry fruit.  A great intro to the reds of López de Heredia.

Viña Bosconia Reserva 2002 ~$35.00

Bosconia is one of my personal favorites, and it too represents an excellent value.  I find it drinks well sooner than Tondonia, it is softer and more supple with great depth and elegance.  It is in a Burgundy shaped bottle with sloping shoulders, and for me it is the more Burgundian wine of the two.

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001 ~$40.00

If Bosconia is akin to Burgundy, I would say that Tondonia is the more Bordeaux like of the two.  Bottled in a Bordeaux style bottle with more angular shoulders, it has sharper features.  I find it to be less polished upon release and it is most certainly very age worthy.  A very complex wine with all the great classic Rioja hallmarks of menthol, leather, earth, and cherry spice.  A bit more brooding than Bosconia, it can stand up to even heartier fare.

Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 1991 ~$95.00

The salinity and brine are present here again, reminding me of the 1976 Tondonia white.  For a 20 year old wine this is a great value.  It is drinking well now, but maintains such an air of freshness and youth and only hints at middle age.  This one should keep going as long as any wine from López de Heredia.  Which is to say, indefinitely…

Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 1976 ~$300.00

Again, the cured olives and brine are here, and even more so.  But underneath all that, when the wine is in the mouth there is sweet cherry fruit coming through.  Certainly a very mature wine, but not fading.  A long distance runner if you will.  Just awesome, one feels lucky to taste such rarity.  A wine from the American Bicentennial and as Jean Luc Le Du so aptly noted, the year of the birth of Punk Rock!