Every year the wine world eagerly awaits the next instalment of releases from Lopez de Heredia.
Founded in 1877 by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, Snr López established the legendary Tondonia vineyards on the alluvial slopes overlooking the River Ebro on the cusp of the Alta and Alavesa wine sub-regions. A visionary and a romantic, his aspirations were impressive- for not just his wines but architecturally as well. The Lopez de Heredia portfolio extends over four autonomous vineyard areas, of which Tondonia is both the largest and the most famous. The other three are Cubillo, Bosconia and Gravonia; each with distinctive terroir and aspect and differing styles of wine.
LDH’s most famous and largest vineyard is the magnificent Tondonia, first established by Don Rafael in 1913. It’s made up of 100 ha of red and white grapes. Tondonia Reserva is always full of energy; a showcase for the bodega’s trademark freshness. The Gran Reserva is only made in the best years; it has massive concentration and demands long ageing.
The white wines are nothing short of extraordinary. Viña Gravonia is made from 24ha of Viura grown in the Zaconia vineyard near the banks of the river Ebro. This vineyard ticks every conceivable box to produce white grapes which achieve ripeness and intricate character. An intricacy which is further enhanced by four years in cask and at least the same again resting in bottle before release. The two Tondonia Blancos – Reserva and Gran Reserva – go further still, spending six and 10 years in cask respectively.
The 2011 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva reflects a warm and ripe year, and the wine is more evolved and already hints at some caramel and honey. It has a mellow palate without the vibrancy of the 2010 I tasted next to it. This wine matured in used, ancient American oak barrels for six years. 19,000 bottles were filled in November 2019.I tasted up to three vintages of the same wine, as it has been some time since I tasted them, and I also sampled the forthcoming vintages to be released in early 2023. The next vintage of Gran Reserva will be 2004, when they produced all three wines (the rosé was not produced, of course, it was a year in the hiatus between 2000 and 2008). 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011 and perhaps 2013 (for a sentimental reason, when their father died) will also be Gran Reserva vintages. What I tasted made sense with the character of each vintage—brilliant 2010s; a warm and more evolved 2011; a very good 2012; an atypical and challenging 2013; a cool and balanced 2014; and a warmer and riper 2015. As a bonus track, I tasted (and swallowed) the 2004 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva, and I can tell you I cannot wait for the wine to be released in 2024...Drink 2022 - 2028. Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate