I have been meaning to write about Lopez de Heredia for quite sometime now, and thought it an appropriate time as we approach the opening of Olympic Provisions. The reason, in part; being that the Heredia label was inspiration for the anticipated house brand chorizo label. The connection between Lopez de Heredia and Clyde Common is a tiny thread that has run through my experience at the restaurant from day one. During my interview, we took a tour of the basement and wine cellar where I commented on the Tondonia. Amalie Roberts (manager and wine director at the time) immediately launched into a story of her experience visiting the winery. Nate was not far behind her touting his love of the wines as well. Matt; the other owner of the Clyde initially put the wine on our opening list, and drinks it frequently when he visits.
I've been thinking about the term "benchmark" in regard to wine recently, and how it is a strong word for such a subjective notion. Being that everyone's benchmark, or point of reference is fluid and personal; I think it is safe to call this a benchmark wine, not only where Rioja is concerned but at Clyde Common.
The universal warmth that each person mentioned holds in regard to this producer is the feeling that wine, in my opinion, is made to evoke.
Amalie's story if my memory serves was about a conversation in the dark cob-webbed cellar in which she asked why they did not import their wine for so many years past; to which the sisters responded 'this wine is not made for donkeys'.
Anyway, on to the winery...completely family owned and hand-harvested bodega in Alta Rioja. Literally making wine from 3 single vineyards from a family blueprint with little disruption or change in the last 125 years. They keep their red wines for about 10 years before release, and little variance in blending occurs from vintage to vintage or vineyard to vineyard; keeping each vintage a reflection of the place and a pure study in terroir. The Tondonia vineyard bottling is comprised of 75% Tempranillo 15%garnacha and 10% Manzuela and Graciano.
Elegant fruit, cherry and tobacco, spice, minerality from the vineyard's limestone soils and totally grounded acid and tannin.
Check out this Rioja article featuring Lopez de Heredia for more information.