Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mature López de Heredia Rosé for Spring

Amidst the sea of simple and relatively uninteresting rosé wines that hit the market every year right around now, there are a few to get genuinely excited about. There are the beautiful and age worthy rosés from Bandol and other areas in Provence. There are Sancerre rosés made from Pinot Noir, also age worthy wines in the hands of either of the Cotat brothers, for example. There is (was?) the gorgeous rosé of Pinot D'Aunis by Eric Nicolas at Domaine de Bellivière in the nothern Loire Valley. There are others too, of course, but let me get to the point.

In general, I think that although most
rosé is simple wine that relies on sweetness, color, and the sunny and beautiful environment in which you will consume them in order to bring pleasure, there are some serious and beautiful rosé wines out there. Some of them actually show best when they're at least 10 years old. That's about 75 in human years, by the way. One of them is made by López de Heredia, the amazing and traditional producer in Rioja. We were inspired last year by the beautiful 1995, and decided that it will become a ritual of spring each year to open a bottle of old López de Heredia rosé.

1997 López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Viña Tondonia, $24, Polaner Selections. A blend of 20% Tempranillo, 60% Garnacho (Grenache), and 20% Viura (a traditional white grape of Rioja). This rosé was a bit muted when first opened. A little air brought out the orange blossoms on the nose, and surprisingly intense minerals, Savennieres like minerality initially. Very clean and pure in the mouth, very satisfying. There was a mingling of pure peach fruit with something like undergrowth, and a slightly oily texture with a touch of sherry-like maturity, but just a touch. And the lingering mouth aromas are very mineral. This is complex and delicious wine. On day two it blossomed and was all the more floral, now with something like an escargot butter mouth aroma, very heady and rich.

We enjoyed the wine with a special treat - a plate of Jamón Ibérico. My first time tasting this, the gossamer slices of the prized pata negra, the black pigs who eat acorns and then generously, if reluctantly, offer their hindquarters to gourmets all over the world. And although this ham was indeed utterly delicious, at $85 a pound I am officially removing myself from the Jamón Ibérico market. I got 6 slices, friends, and it set me back $18. I think I would have enjoyed Speck or another quality ham just as much.

I read a comment about this wine by someone named Slaton on Cellar Tracker and it really hit home for me: he suggested that the richness of the wine would make it a good pairing with crab. As soon as I read that my mouth began to water. What a phenomenal meal that would be, simply boiled crabs with salty butter, bread, and this wine. Then maybe a salad, or maybe instead just grab your dining partner and off to bed.


Anonymous said...

I really like this description: "escargot butter mouth aroma, very heady and rich". I think you've got it perfectly.

I have tried this with crab rissotto and its magic.



Cliff said...

Couldn't agree more about everything you say. The LdH is a beautiful wine, and I lament the absence of the Giroflés.

Brooklynguy said...

mmmm...that sounds good too Dave.

cliff - Giroflés is the Bellviere rose, right? do you know what happened with that wine, why we're not seeing it anymore?

Cliff said...


Yes, the Giroflés is the Bellivière rosé. I don't have much of a story to tell. I quickly asked David Lillie at the Dressner dinner, and he said they hadn't made it for the last couple of years; he didn't have time to explain why. I loved the 2004 and put some away. The 2005 was bigger and drier. I know David preferred that one, but I gave the nod to 04. In any case, I prefer both of those to any red Pineau d'Aunis I've ever had (and many other wines as well; really, special stuff).

Anonymous said...

I tasted this wine yesterday at the winery(!). It's only 8.10 Euros...yes, even at our worthless$, that's about $13/btl. (Yes, you, me, Alder, Slaton, and probably Mr. A, would also being buying a case of two at that price!)

P.S. I've been nudging Slaton for months to launch his blog. He's still dithering on the name(!).

Anonymous said...

I tasted this with Jack yesterday in Haro, Spain at the winery - what impressed me was the minerality and the pleasant integrated acidity. It was suggested this was a perfect winter rosé and I concur. It had a distinctive hazelnut attribute.

Brooklynguy said...

hey jack and joanne - i hope you are enjoying your travels, and that Trent got to taste the LdH wines too. looking forward to whatever you write about your trip.

cliff - thanks for the info. i know Joey D is super strict about who goes to his events. what do you do?

Cliff said...

My only connection itb is as a consumer. I teach French history.

Joe said...

Grab your partner and off to bed - something I never associated with rose, but often thing about instead of salad ;) Funny you mentioned Bandol and not Tavel - I thought that was where all the good roses come from? Never had an 11 year old rose - definitely something to look for - where did you buy it.

keithlevenberg said...

Murray's Cheese has the best price I've seen in town on jamon iberico, $70 a pound.

Slaton knows his stuff!