My true heart will always be with Italy, but I am considering taking a mistress.  Her name is Rioja and her siren’s song is Lopez de Heredia.

I first read about the wines of Lopez de Heredia in Alice Feiring’s first novel, The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization.  I was so intrigued by her description of these dusty, rich reds and slightly oxidative, honey-colored whites, that I went out and picked up a couple of bottles.

The 1991 Tondonia was golden- almost orange.  The aromas of this wine are fun to describe- warm, beguiling and complex- certainly hints of herbs like rosemary and thyme, with the fruitiness of dried apricots, caramelized sugar and the indescribable saline smell of the ocean at low tide. 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia grapes.

The 2002 Bosconia Riserva was truly special- this may be
the wine that cements Rioja’s place in my wine cellar.  This wine is aggressively mineral, but does not lack the fleshy ripe plum you’d expect.  Aeomatically complex, this wine reminded me of Burgundian Pinot Noir in all the right ways- slate, red fruit, a little bit of bog funk and petrol- this is definitely a new favorite for me.  80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and Mazuelo grapes.

I found both wines at Hi Time Wine Cellars, for much less than you’d expect to spend on bottled happiness.  We decided to crack them open with a bunch of old friends- does life get any sweeter? A big thanks to our fabulous “photographer” for the evening, Lee Wright.

Some of the best matches for these wines- various cured meats and cheeses.

Enjoying the company, and the vino.

Amazing photos- thanks, Lee!

About The Author

I love all things Italian: the beautiful country of Italia, the Italians themselves, the language, the food… and above all, I love Italian wine. The people I meet in my charmed life are fascinating, the wines are extraordinary. I needed a special place like this to write about them, and to remember them.

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5 Responses

  1. Jesse (@tricerapops)

    haven’t had a chance to see Maria speak whenever she comes through town, but I’ve heard that she’s big into how the whites take on that ‘slightly’ oxidative note – considered a flaw by her counterparts in Spain. I’ve been tempted to see how the Todonia blanco would do with asian cuisine, as I’ve had some success with oxidative wines with soy/sugar/spice elements in asian food (primarily Thai/Vietnamese)

    • Joanie Karapetian, Italian Wine Geek

      I would love to meet Maria someday- sounds like a real inspiration! I haven’t experimented with these wines and too many food pairings yet, but I will say one of my most memorable food pairings was Pad Thai with a bottle of the Gravner Breg 2002. That wine also has some of those caramelized, irony notes as well…


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