How rare is it to drink a 20-year-old table wine that still has freshness and vitality, makes a delicious drink to sip by itself or accompany food, and costs less than $100 on a wine list? Especially for a white wine? That's currently available?
We were looking for something pleasant to sip with a table full of tapas, so the sommelier brought out a bottle of R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Reserva 1990. With its wire cage and old-fashioned script, the bottle brought back memories for me of drinking inexpensive Spanish whites, often seven or eight years old, at Cuban restaurants when I lived in Miami. Those wines were usually tired and oxidized, but they tasted OK with the masas de puerco.
But this time we were at Jaleo, José Andrés' showcase restaurant at the brand-new Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. The food had more elegance than the memories the wine evoked, and so did this wine. It felt fresh. It tingled with bright acidity against a silky texture, framing the perfumed pear flavors, with hints of herb tea and honey weaving through the long finish. If I had to guess, I would have put this at five years old, not 20. 90 points, non-blind. Not bad with the potato chip-like patatas bravas either.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Reserva 1990 (93, $49, Top 100 of 2009: Ranked No. 90).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Spanish whites.