Nothing changes at Lopez de Heredia

Luis Gutiérrez recently reported for the Wine Advocate: When I asked María José López de Heredia about their latest news, she simply replied, We keep making Viña Tondonia as we have always done it.

Nothing changes at Lopez de Heredia. While the rest of Rioja underwent rapid reinvention, with new oak, shorter periods of ageing and simpler wines, they continued exactly the same way they had always done - using large, old casks (made at their own, on-site cooperage) and ageing their wines for years beyond what is legally required. The wines fell out of fashion, but class is permanent and now this oldest of the old-school Rioja producers is wildly in demand once more.

Their best and most famous wines are the Tondonia range (Tondonia is the vineyard), and the latest vintage of the Reserva Blanco, their flagship white, is 2005.

The 2005 Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva is a fine and elegant wine inspired by the vineyards of Graves in Bordeaux. 2005 was an excellent vintage ... It matured in used oak barriques for six years before bottling ... But the oak is never obvious in the wine, it only adds spiciness but no wood aromas.

95 points

Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate

This is far removed from your average new-wave, simplistic, fruit-driven white Rioja. The extended ageing in those big old oak casks has given it a much richer, hugely complex profile. It is a truly fine wine. It could only be made here and, even though it is already 14 years old, it will probably go on forever.

We've taken our allocation of this wine for the year and it's disappearing rapidly, so we wanted to flag it up before it's all gone.