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Traditional Rioja – ‘So easy to drink that it can be dangerous’

By now you may know the story of López de Heredia – the ‘apotheosis of traditional, classic Rioja’ who haven’t changed their winemaking in 140 years. In a world of trend-chasing and clear-cut, innocuous wines, the wines of López de Heredia are oxidative, finely elegant and have a depth of umami flavour that make them so food-friendly. It is an absolute privilege to import this traditional dynasty of treasure.

Lopez de Heredia

Once again, we offer 2 classic reds from 2 of their properties. The Viña Cubillo is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo from 50-year-old vines and aged in barrique for 3 years. 2008 was a cooler vintage and provides electric freshness, fine texture and beautifully elegant red fruits. ‘This is so easy to drink that it can be dangerous,’ writes Luis Gutiérrez for The Wine Advocate. Is there better value in the wine world?

According to Luis, the Viña Tondonia Reserva 2005is nothing short of exceptional’ and expresses more finesse and power than the Cubillo. Aged in oak for 6 years, the gap between the Reserva and the Gran Reserva is small and, it too, offers incredible value. It will drink well for a decade or two.

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Vinous regards,
Roland and the Wine Cellar team

Viña Cubillo, Crianza 2008 – R 250
The first of the reds here is the 2008 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza from a cooler vintage that produced some austere and serious wines – a year with higher acidity and lively fruit. It feels effervescent and it makes you salivate. This is usually a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo from 50-year-old vines that ferments in ancient oak vats, and ages in barrel for three years. This cuvée has increased its quality tremendously since the 1990s. These cooler years provide freshness, and a very fine texture and vibrant acidity. This is so easy to drink that it can be dangerous. This was the Rioja clarete fino – the everyday red. It's both elegant and powerful. Very good value, too. – Wine Advocate, 92/100

Viña Tondonia, Reserva 2005 – R 395
The 2005 Viña Tondonia Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo from their vineyards in the meander of the Ebro River, where they have some 100 hectares of vineyards. The wine fermented in the original oak vats that are now some 140 years of age. There is no temperature control and malolactic was also in the vat. The wine was transferred to oak barrels where it slowly matured in their deep, humid caves for no less than six years. After this, it was bottled unfiltered after being fined with egg whites. I think the quality gap between the Reserva and Gran Reserva has been getting smaller since the 2001 vintage and this 2005 is nothing short of exceptional. It's clean and complex, with more freshness. The wine is very spicy and with a palate that feels very balanced, livelier than in the past. It has a long finish where the flavors are clean. Easy to drink and very pleasurable. – Wine Advocate, 93/100

Wine Cellar, Prices Park, Nelson Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town

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