White Tondonia - Reserva vs Gran Reserva

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Alex Lake, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. We were lucky enough to have a bottle of 1994 Tondonia Blanco GR the other day, courtesy of Richard Zambuni. It was quite glorious. I was wondering if the difference between GR and R is more pronounced in the whites, as I've had the Reserva a few times and it didn't seem close in terms of quality. Having said that, we once had a GR (at a Rioja event at 28-50) that wasn't showing as well as the R. That could have been down to its poor treatment - I had to cycle madly from the wrong restaurant to the right restaurant with that wine in my bag.

    I know it's quite expensive now, but I'm seriously considering going for the next vintage whenever it comes out.
  2. Thanks for the note Alex. I agree the Lopez de Heredia whites (all of them including Gravonia) are treasures. The trouble now is they are getting increasingly difficult to get hold of. I was last at the Bodega in July last year and no whites at all were available having already sold. I did however taste the Gran Reserva Blanco 1996 which was showing its complexity and early promise.
    For my palate, I prefer to drink the Gran Reserva's from 30 years of age and the Reserva's from 20 years when the fruit is still evident and those tertiary flavours kick in. I also think that the Reserva's can approach the quality of the GR's and are one of the best QPR wines on the market.
    The next Reserva vintage is the 2005 which may well be in the market now or any time soon. I am not sure what the next GR blanco vintage will be but could well be 2001 (as for the rouge GR and Bosconia GR).
    Richard Zambuni likes this.
  3. It’s an interesting question. Late last year I had a 70s Tondonia Dry White Rioja with a green strip at the bottom of the label, which I assumed meant it was a predecessor to Gravonia (would love to be corrected if wrong!). It was not miles behind a 70s GR although the latter was nevertheless the better wine on the night. I cannot find the photo with the vintages unfortunately.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  4. This was a line of discussion at the Ledbury lunch reported here on Friday, where Seamus recommended that we held back the '99 Reserva to enjoy with the cheese course rather than the fish as we had planned, and it worked quite pleasantly. My own experience is that the difference up the range is more a matter of style than quality, with a gradual ascent in weight up the range, but very much on the same relatively short spectrum. I find them all immensely compelling, but in some ways it is the Gravonia that impresses the most at the price.
    Alex Lake and Richard Zambuni like this.
  5. The GR certainly seems to be on the wrong side of the supply/demand line now - hardly any on WineSearcher and what there is is £100+. To my mind/wallet there's no reason to buy at these prices when the Tondonia Reserva and Gravonia remain affordable (or even a steal, in the case of the Gravonia). I've drunk a fair bit of all over the years and came to the conclusion that the three wines have far more in common than the supposed quality level differentials (crianza vs reserva vs GR) or price might suggest. The Gravonia keeps every bit as well as the others.
    Alex Lake and Richard Zambuni like this.
  6. And the Gravonia also has the advantage of being fully ready to drink earlier.

    I do like the Tondonia Reserva, though, and think it fair value even at current prices. I think that when my six-pack of 04 arrives I'll have enough to see me out.
  7. I agree with Andy’s comments, but I do think the GR Blanco tends to show more of a leap in quality over Reserva than the red version does. There’s an extra depth and complexity in the best vintages. It does need age though. 81 GR lovely now, 91 not quite ready, 73 on the basis of a recent bottle fading slightly, but that could just be bottle variation.
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  8. Good question Alex. The GR is definitely not 300% better than the Reserva as the current prices would imply. I agree with a lot of what has been written above, but overall, you get nearly as much pleasure from the Reserva as the Gran Reserva, and the Reserva drinks fairly well on release and for another 15+ years after that. The Gravonia is a simpler pleasure and I have had some bottles where I feel that it fades a little with significant age. Personally, I prefer the Gravonias relatively younger at say 12+ years old, but even that is quite old for a dry white by general standards. I think the lighter weight of the Gravonia works well with an element of freshness still. Some like Simon prefer the GRs really quite old, but I find them fine from 20 years onwards although they very much go the distance.
  9. What I'm trying to say is that all three are great wines and for the Reserva and Gran Reserva, exactly when you drink them is a matter of personal preference.
  10. GR definitely a step up from the Reserva but as everyone says hard to justify its current pricing.
  11. Ok, so generally confirming my prejudices, and I’m delighted to have reasonable amounts of Gravonia and Reserva in my cellar. There may have been an element of last week’s wine hitting the spot - and a spot that isn’t always there!
  12. I agree with Andy that the best QPR's are the Blanco Reserva and Gravonia. However I do believe the GR Blanco offers value as well, especially when bought at the Bodega (when available) at around 60 euros per bottle. This compares to the release in 2017 of the Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay GR Blanco Especial 1986 priced on release from the bodega at 400+ euros per bottle ( I can't remember the exact release price). I believe the Tondonia R and GR are classical and age worthy wines and able to stand comparison with some of the finest from France, Italy etc at very competitive prices.
  13. I'd I wondered this. FasciFascin thread.
    Classic + best + scarcity =zillionaires want to try it and 100 quid more or less a bittkb is irrelevant to then. This not said withwany bitterness. But explains Verset Jamet Ryas Lopez Dujac top Loire etc etc.
  14. The timing of this thread is spookily good. I picked up three of the reserva 2003 from the bbr shop off the warehouse soiled table for 20 quid each yesterday. Not tried this wine before and was going to open one but I'll keep them for five years before thinking of doing so unless I read the collectives' comments wrongly.
  15. I'd try one in the near term and then open or cellar the others, according to how you like it.
    Mark Dey likes this.
  16. One of your more elliptical observations, Guy, but enjoyable as ever!
  17. A 1998 Tondonia was extremely engaging last night. I love old(or adolescent in this case) white rioja while finding them all about the same, which is not a criticism.
    Alex Lake likes this.
  18. I know exactly what you mean, Tom! I don't think it can be correct, but it's certainly how it feels sometimes...
    The 1994 GR we had was more exciting than others I can remember. It's actually quite a recent release, but it spent a lot of time in barrel. It would be interesting to try a 1994 R to see what a similar level of grape age in different circumstances can be like (is bottle variation a big thing in these wines, I wonder?)
  19. Yes, bottle variation is significant IMO.

    I suspect the variation between bottles is as great as the variation between crianza/reserva/GR.
    Alex Lake likes this.
  20. Blimey!
  21. But rarely if ever corked in my experience. I'm sure that now I've typed this, the next bottle will be a TCA train wreck.
    Ray Queley likes this.
  22. I've had corked ones - I particularly remember a miserable evening a few years ago with 2 corked GRs in a row....:mad:
  23. Great info, gentlemen. Could you give a similar comparison of the reds, please.
  24. Just my view of them...

    - quite a different landscape to the whites.
    - the red Crianza, Cubillo, has for me never been more than a decent quaffer. It isn't cut from the same cloth as the reservas and GRs.
    - IMO the key to understanding LdH reds is that the reservas are the beating heart of the range. Their aim is to make them as typical as possible to their vineyard styles year-in, year-out. Although supposedly released when ready, around 10-15 years old, they always repay significant further bottle age. Fantastic value.
    - For me the price of entry for the GR reds, in contrast to the whites, has still been worth the premium. At their peak, at their best, they are the greatest expressions of red Rioja. The 1981's now are superb, 76's still fresh for example. The reservas don't have quite the same longevity. Whether I'll still be in the market at the price the 2001 GRs (the next release) are released at, whenever that happens, is another matter.

    So, for the wine lover on a budget there are 2 sweet spots in the LdH range IMO - Gravonia in the whites and both the red reservas.
  25. Good point about the Cubillo Andy - definitely less interesting than the Gravonia.

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