A classic Rioja from Vina Tondonia

vina tondonia rioja reserva

One of Rioja’s most traditional producers is López de Heredia Viña Tondonia. These wines are remarkable: they are made in a very traditional, somewhat oxidative style, but they always seem to work, with bags of personality. And they age really well. I’ve never seen one young, in fact – they are released as they just begin to enter their peak drinking phase. This 2001 Reserva is starting to shine, but its best years are almost certainly ahead of it.

Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001 Rioja, Spain
A beautifully taut, complex, taut, traditionally styled Rioja with notes of spice, earth, herbs, minerals and subtle oak notes. Fresh with some cherry fruit, but the dominant character is non-fruit complexity: warm, spicy, evolved, grippy, sweetly aromatic with real potential for development. 92/100 (£29.95 Berry Bros & Rudd)

7 comments to A classic Rioja from Vina Tondonia

  • Jamie,

    Double thumbs up. Am a really big fan of this but actually a bigger fan of the white.

    Had the 2001 White Rioja at Hawksmoor (by the glass) and it was nothing short of sensational. Sure oxidised but all good nonetheless.

  • Simon T

    Jamie,
    I really love Rioja but now find it one of the most difficult regions to explore – as supermarkets have trashed the region (I guess over-stocked producers had a hand to play also) and so I never know what is a really good wine and what is a tactical half-pricer dressed up like a lady of the night in gold braid. This sort of thing is happening to St Emillion, Chablis etc at Christmas and so what will happen to these ?

    Anyway…. I just did a bit of research and 01 was widely reported as ‘Excelente’ whereas the 2years before and after were merely ‘bueno’.

    So why was this wine only ‘Reserva’ and not ‘Gran Reserva’ ? Do they do a ‘GR’?

  • Simon,

    They do have a Gran Reserva, which they keep and only release when they deem its ready to release. The current release of the Gran Reserva is 1994, a great year in Rioja!

    Reservas dont spend as much time before release as the GR, the current release of the Reserva is the 2001. I had the opportunity to meet up with Julio Caesar Lopez de Heredia a few weeks ago at an event, wrote up some tasting notes on the Tondonia Gran Reserva 94, Reserva 01, and the Reserva Blanco 93.

    http://panamawinereview.blogspot.com/2011/10/tradition.html

  • Andrew Halliwell

    I’m wondering if there’s anyone more traditional than Lopez de Heredia? I wouldn’t want to drink them every day, but it’s good someone is still true to tradition.

    Simon, a Rioja firm can make a Joven, Crianza, Reserva, GR (plus stuff outside these rules) in any combo they like from any year, except that I think that to make a GR the year has to be decent. So in an Excelente year like 2001, no doubt Tondonia would have made a GR as well. It probably hasn’t even been released yet, if you check their web site their current year for their ROSE GR appears to be 2000!

  • Richard

    I tried the 2000 Rose recently in the context of a rose wine tasting with some friends. More orange than pink but a fantastic wine and it was the ‘winner’ by some distance. The Wine Society have the 1991 white, at £55. I’ve bought a bottle for Christmas.

  • keith prothero

    One of my faourite producers in the world—brilliant wines which need plenty of bottle age.
    Went to a Tondonia offline a few weeks ago,with the WOTN being the 1942

  • Mark T

    Bloody hell! This is now thirty quid?!

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