Last week, I went to a lovely Mediterranean restaurant in Portland, OR that had a $170 bottle of white wine – E. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rioja Alta, Spain 2011.
I asked the wine person about this wine, and she told me it was a Viura, also called Macabeo, the most important white grape in the Rioja region of Spain. I was shocked that I didn’t know about this grape. It turns out it’s the primary blending grape in Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, which I know and love. But I’d never had a still Viura. Today, we’re going to explore this lovely grape.
According to Cellar Tours, “Most viticulturists believe that Viura is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula. It is thought that the variety originated in the Ebro Valley in north-eastern Spain. Viura eventually moved into Catalunya and subsequently crossed the border into the Languedoc-Roussillon [in France], where a small volume remains in circulation.”
Viura, like many other Spanish origin whites, is a mildly acidic, mildly alcoholic variety.
This bone-dry wine has notes of honeydew, lime peel, lemon verbana, tarragon and hazelnut.
I bought a $19 bottle of this wine at Total Wine & More. On day 1, I like it but needed a lot of sips to begin to understand it. On day 2, I liked it a lot more, perhaps because I’d already tried it and perhaps because it had opened up a little bit more.
About the Wine at the Restaurant
The Vino Tondonia is among the top 10 most highly-rated Rioja Alta wines. It’s aged in oak for six years and then aged another several years before being available on the market. That will definitely add dollars to the price tag. The only bottle of this vintage I could find was from Redneck Wine Company. The price was just under $90.
James Suckling gave this wine 97 points (!!!) and noted, “Complex, really finely nuanced, oxidative notes make this so attractive. Everything is very subtle here. A mixture of salted almonds, cashews, minerals, dried lemon peel, nougat and treacle. A full-bodied, slightly chewy Rioja that’s full of flavor. Concentrated, yet so zesty and taut. Extremely long and zingy finish. The longer you taste it, the more the wine will talk to you. Delicious now, but can hold for a decade, if not more.”