Tuesday, May 27, 2008

1997 R. López de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rosado Crianza

The general rule is that a Rosé should only be drank during the current vintage. Yet there are certainly exceptions. A fair amount of Rosés, especially good French ones, still taste good from the previous vintage. The Rosés from Domaine Tempier can usually last at least a few years. But who would think that a Rosé that is eleven years old would still taste good?

Well, this past weekend I found an eleven year-old Rosé, from Spain. And this is a Rosé that was just released the prior year! It certainly intrigued me so I had to buy a couple bottles to taste. And I am very glad that I did.

I found the 1997 R. López de Heredia Vino Tondonia Rosado Crianza ($25) at South End Formaggio. Around 1913 and 1914, Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta founded Viña Tondonia, the bodega´s most famous vineyard and product. Viña Tondonia is a beautiful vineyard of over 100 hectares, situated on the right bank of the river Ebro. They are a very traditional bodega and create some stunning wines.

This Rosado is a blend of 60% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo and 10% Viura. The wine was aged in the barrel for four and a half years, being racked twice per year and fined with fresh egg whites. The 1997 vintage was consided Good. The winery stated: "It is in vintages such as this one where the results of our viticulture experience and a top-level oenology gives us the capacity to deal with difficult situations and can have a result like this wine, still fresh 10 years later."

The first telltale sign of the age of this wine is its color. Rather than a shade of pink like most Rosé, the color of this wine is more orange/copper. The nose is also different from most other Rosés. It has more of a smell of apricot and orange with spice notes, not the usual strawberry, watermelon, raspberry flavors. On the palate, it is a dry wine with an exotic blend of fruit, spice and other flavors, including a bit of butterscotch. It is definitely a complex wine where the flavors flit back and forth in your mouth, sometimes teasing you with familiarity before vanishing just as you were going to identify the taste. It is a smooth wine with a lingering finish. Such a radical departure from the usual Rosé but quite intriguing. Despite its age, it definitely has not lost any flavor. It has only become more complex and interesting.

This is a wine I highly recommend. It is an unusual find and well worth its price. This is more of a wine lover's wine rather than something for the person just seeking a fruity Caifornia Rosé. Buy yourself a bottle and taste a truly superior wine.


Andrew said...

Braver man than me to buy it in the first place!

gopaz said...

This is by far one of my favorite Rioja rosés, and I'm really happy that you had a chance to try it! Granted, I haven't been disappointed by their wines yet ;-)

Jill said...

I think that the Lopez de Heredia wines are favorites of Alice Feiring, and mentioned on numerous occasions in her book...I just saw a large selection of them locally and may pick some up to try. I believe they don't release any of their wines, whites included, for many years after they're bottled.

Amy said...

This is great to see, as I just blogged on this wine today as well.


I love the depth of flavors, it's more comforting than refreshing. a very exciting wine!!!