It was a sad day for the unusual wines of Rioja, Spain; Pedro Lopez de Heredia passed away today. This called for the raising of a special glass in his honour and memory.
Enter the Viña Gravonia, Crianza 2000. Several years ago when I knew nothing of wine save that I enjoyed drinking it, I made a trip to Spain. Excited on my first evening there, I stumbled with extreme jet lag into a local Madrid drinking hole and mumbled in fractured Spanish that I wanted some Rioja.
It was the only thing I knew to say. I didn’t even really know what Rioja was, let alone appreciate its fame. Someone had recommended I use that term and I learned if I managed to say it, a great glass of wine would appear before me.
At the time, I thought Rioja could only be red; then I learned about white Rioja made from Viura grapes.
Fast forward to summer 2012, the start of my WSET Diploma program and opening some bottles of López de Heredia’s Tondonia, Rose, Gran Reserva 2000 with family and friends.
Tonight, in honour of Pedro and Maria Jose, the future of López de Heredia, we opened the Viña Gravonia, Crianza 2000.
Clear and bright, medium lemon – akin to light apple juice – with heavy legs noted. On the nose, clean with pronounced aromas of brine and salty sea air, bruised yellow plum, citrus and ripe apricot and almond. A developed wine.
On the palate, it was beautifully unusual. Dry with medium acidity and medium minus alcohol at just 12%, but with a medium plus body – very mouth filling. The flavours mimic the nose with deeply intense brine, olives, fresh citrus and stone fruit – lemon and apricots with nectarines and bruised tree fruit.
Honey notes with beeswax and wool make me think this wine would be mistaken for Chenin Blanc in a blind tasting. Sherry-like and oxidative (when I opened another bottle in January 2015, it seemed to be on the back end of its life. There was less intensity at this point).
It went perfectly with our Manchego, Iberico cow, goat and sheep mixed cheese, olives, walnuts and pâté. The finish was medium plus.
WSET Very Good wine – weird and yet wonderful. Aged in American oak for four years and then in glass for an additional four, at the first tasting it was 13 and in January 2015 it was 15.