López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2001


López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2001


Don Rafael López de Heredia acquired Viña Tondonia from a group of clergies in 1913. The Tondonia vineyard is a beautiful vineyard of over 247 acres, 1,600 feet above sea level, situated on the right bank of the Ebro River in Rioja Alta. The soil is Alluvial clay with a high concentration of Limestone. There are 4 varieties of red grapes planted in this vineyard: Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano, and Garnacho.

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“The 2001 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva is the follow-up of the 1995. There is a sense of harmony and elegance, of nuance and subtleness that wasn’t quite the same in the Bosconia, as comparing both wines is inevitable. They started picking the red grapes the 15th of October, and the last grapes were picked the 29th of October with good weather. The grapes ripened properly and thoroughly, and the wine has great balance for a long aging in bottle. This is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho and 5% each Graciano and Mazuelo that fermented in their 153-year-old oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in used barrels for 10 years. It has 13% alcohol, a pH of 3.4 and 6.4 grams of acidity (tartaric). The nose shows young (tasting it blind, you’d guess a 10-year old wine, not a 20-year-old wine!). It has a nose of sweet spices, underbrush and cigar ash, somewhat balsamic, bramble fruit with perfect ripeness, integrated and young but starting to show some tertiary complexity. The palate is velvety and medium-bodied, with fine-grained, chalky tannins denoting a limestone soil that brings finesse and texture and a sapid, tasty, almost salty finish. This is going to make a beautiful bottle of old Rioja in 30 years’ time! 25,000 bottles produced. It was bottled after being fined with egg whites in July 2012.”-98WA, 2021-2040

There are few wineries in Spain, or in the world, whose name conjures the heritage and prestige evoked by R. López de Heredia. Little about this winery has changed in the 142 years since its founding by, Don Rafael López de Heredia. The family adheres to a winemaking doctrine blueprinted in the 1880s – to make wine only from their own vineyards.

When it comes to the winemaking process, the work in the vineyard has not changed since the 1880’s. R. López de Heredia is a “traditionalist” through and through and keeping the traditions alive today is important to maintain not only the quality but the personality of the house. Working by hand with some of the best terroir, respecting the soil, and working with nature on what it needs is something R. López de Heredia is very proud of.

Fermentation takes place in their 72 large oak vats, some of which are 142 years old. After fermentation, the wines are ready to be aged in 14,000 handmade American oak barrels. The wines will remain at R. López de Heredia’s underground cellars, stored at perfect temperature and tranquility for a minimum of 3 to 10 years. Wines acquire their smoothness and bouquet during the bottle aging that follows, a minimum of 3 years for Crianzas, and 10 years for Gran Reserva wines. Aging wines should be seen as a pedagogic act; the wine is “educated”, hence should never be rushed through sped-up improvisations which would destroy the biological process that give it its special character. Wines need to spend a minimum of three years in barrels to begin to manifest their “education” and their soul.

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