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1991 López de Heredia 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca

Sometimes we recommend a wine because it's clearly what you might call a "steal": its low price gives it a killer "Modest Monday"-like cost-to-quality ratio. But sometimes, my friends, we feel the need to deliver you to a transformative experience. 

If you've never had a traditionally produced Rioja Blanca, and you're willing to shell out ~$45 (well worth it), you are in for a treat. López de Heredia (fantastic website, btw) is one of the last of the old guard in Rioja (though some of the younger vignerons are bringing the old traditions back), and their wines can be absolutely sublime experiences. 

Take the 1991 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca, for example. A traditional blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasía, this is a bottle I'd buy even if I were not allowed to drink a drop -- seriously. For me, the nose alone was an instant ticket to a sunny day in a countryside Spanish jardín. Beeswax and flowers, complex, vibrant and refined. And the palate was no joke either: oily, lemony, floral, honeysuckle, mind-bending complexity, and a wonderful citrus-like zing made it a winner. The finish was one of the most beautiful and lengthy I've ever experienced.

The 1991 is tough to find right now, but it is out there. The current release is the 1993 (yes, the winery holds onto these a long time to ensure they are showing their full character before releasing), and based on the stellar 1991, I'm going to purchase one as soon as possible. For $45 bucks, I still think it's a steal.

I have one caveat: this is a wine-geek's wine, for sure - interesting, super complex, and gorgeous, but this is not a fruit-bomb lover's wine. If you serve it to a buttery chardonnay crowd, you're sure see a furrowed brow. Save it for the vets.

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