1990 R. López de Heredia Rioja Reserva Viña Tondonia

Ignore the urgings to drink this wine with food. Yes, it is a wonderful compliment to food. But it is much more enjoyable as a contemplative talking point, a wine for consideration and discussion. Six different tasters will spring forward with six different initial aromatic and palate qualities, and yet they will all be correct. Wax, chamomile, honey, almond paste, pear, dried flowers, caramel, brioche, lavender. But even more gripping than the myriad possible descriptors is the very idea that the richness in the mouth comes not from new oak but from old vines, traditional practices, and the family model that doesn’t mind a little mold on the cellar walls. You want character? You’ve found it, but it might shock you initially. And the wine world could use a shock. — E.D.

WHO  R. López de Heredia
WHAT  Viura
WHERE  Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
WHEN  1990

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