TN: 2003 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia

The second bottle of this was so good I’m moved to post a TN. My (admittedly limited) experience with Rioja is that there can be a lot of bottle variation, that might explain the differences.

  • 2003 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (3/1/2016)
    ** (almost ***)
    C: Dark red
    N: Mature, woody
    P: Decanted about one hour. Starts a bit acid, but resolves to something more pleasant, very nice, smooth, long, great balance. Classic mature Rioja flavor. Medium body. Best with food. Probably at its height.
    Another bottle 4/19/17:
    This one was great right out of the gate (just PnP, no decant). No extra acidity at all, just singing right from the start. FWIW the cork was wet almost all the way up this time, wasn’t so for the first one.

Posted from CellarTracker

I thought I read somewhere that bottling takes place in stages, perhaps explaining the variation.

Glad this showed well, Peter. My LdH experience from the vintage was the Bosconia, and it always showed like a soupy mess (was by the glass a lot locally, so multiple tries from local sources).

FWIW they are very open about allowing (up to) the legal limit of other vintages, so as to preserve the style they seek.

I have found this to be a lot better than I expected from the vintage, maybe partially due to what Ian mentioned. I don’t think there’s the potential here that there is in vintages like '04 or (especially) '01, but it’s quite a nice drink now and will be for the next 8-10 years by my reckoning.

Jim, I now have an idea for one of the next bottles to bring to KC when I visit next. I have many vintages of Bosconia as well as Tondonia Gran Reservas. They’re different animals and all good IHMO, some are better in better vintages; 03 was a very hot, super ripe vintage and only a few stars survived and bottle variations existed as was possible in Peters experience here.

Rioja would be fun. I was just in Spain and the last wine I had before we left was a lovely 73 from Lacuesta.

Thanks, Jim and Ian. I was looking back over my notes (on a dozen or so Riojas) and noticed a number of wines that sometimes showed well, sometimes not, and others I expected more from. Often (but not always) the problem was excess acidity.

I recall someone on WB remarking that the quality control was not always what it might be at some of the producers (IIRC especially some of the larger ones). I wonder if that might explain the variations.

I think it’s up to about 15%, which is common in other areas as well as producers top up the barrels, etc.

But as far as I know, LdH doesn’t blend vintages for the gran reserva.