Closing in on its 25th birthday, this wine has gone a little insane in the bottle. Drink it just after opening and you’ll think it’s a bit of a refined old lady, rich, toasty and oaky, but starting to fray at the edges, the weave of its light tannins and firm acidity a little loose. The wine comes back together with several hours of air, however, and gains freshness over the course of a day, transforming into a wild, vivid beauty in its prime, the acidity and tannins merged into a vibrant salted caramel flavor with subtle floral notes and remarkable elasticity. This is below-the-belt wine, the glory of Rioja from ancient vines on a bend of the Ebro in Haro.
Orange-tinged red. Aromas of plum, gunflint and tobacco. Dense and silky but penetrating, with ethereal flavors of red fruits, minerals and smoke. Soft, round and resolved yet this also possesses a sappy quality. The sweet fruit carries into a very long, coconutty finish featuring firm-edged tannins. (Tasting old wines in the bodega's spooky, cobwebbed cellar can be thrilling, but in recent years I have had considerable difficulty finding fresh bottles of the Lopez de Heredia wines in the U.S. market. This time around I was lucky.) (ST)
The 1987 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva displays an expressive, perfumed nose with suggestions of cedar, leather, licorice, cocoa and minerals along with ethereal layers of sweet fruit that open in the glass. Although it offers excellent length and prominent acidity which will allow the wine to drink well for at least another decade its overall balance is not quite as outstanding as that of the best Gran Reservas in this tasting. (AG)
The 1987 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva reveals a light, feeble-looking, pinkish/garnet color with some amber at the edge. The nose offers up notions of sweet caramel, cherries, and strawberries as well as damp earth, forest floor, and burnt herbs. Medium-bodied and gentle, with a distinctive graphite/earthy component in the mouth, it is definitely an acquired taste, particularly for consumers weaned on fruit-forward Riojas. Nevertheless, there is a lot to respect and enjoy in this complex offering. (RP)
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