Rioja whites. Young ones are easy; old ones are worth chasing!

Rioja whites

Young ones are easy; old ones are worth chasing!

The old ones, the great ones, are found here in Haro

Vina Tondonia Aged Whites

Most Riojan whites are for made for easy consumption but some are not. Vina Tondonia aged whites are a different kettle of fish entirely and Jancis Robinson has been known to praise both them and “the waxy whites” by Marques de Murrieta.

Don't think I’ve ever had any of those waxy whites but I did call to Tondonia (or Bodegas Lopez de Heredia/Tondonia to give them their full title). I was then on the hunt for their famous aged Rosada but they had none, they don't produce it every year. You may read about the visit here.

I spotted racks of whites, all with a rich golden colour and, thinking out loud, said they must be sweet. “No,” said the assistant behind me (who had studied English in Ireland). “All our whites are dry.” After a tasting in their ancient bar in its ultra modern setting, I was convinced and bought a bunch of them. Needless to say, they are long gone.
They are not easy to get here but an internet search revealed that Dublin’s Black Pig have some on offer and you may check them out here. It will be well worth your while!

The Young Ones

Zuazo Gaston Rioja blanco 2013, 13%, 15.99
Stockists: The Goose Off Licence, Co. Dublin. Matson's Wine Store Grange & Bandon, Co. Cork.  Sweeneys's Wine Merchants, Co. Dublin. Number 21 Off Licence, Co. Cork.
Zuazo vineyard
This is a 100% Viura, the most widely grown white grape in Rioja, known as Macabeo in other Spanish regions and as Macabeu in France. It is also one of the main varieties of Cava. This Basque vineyard has been in the same family since 1850 and this comes to you in a Burgundy style bottle.

It is lemon/straw colour with green tints, really bright. The aromas, floral and fruity, have been enhanced by cold maceration of the must in contact with the skins. The palate is fresh and aromatic, creamy and generous, rich and round, yet well balanced and it has a quality finish as well. Highly Recommended.

El Coto Rioja blanco 2013, 12%, €11.75 Karwig Wines

This Viura has a very light straw colour with a nice intensity of white fruit aromas. On the palate, it is fresh, fruity (citrus mainly) and zesty, a decent mouthfeel, good acidity and a refreshing finish. Hardly a heavyweight but a pleasant lightweight, well priced and Recommended.

Muriel Vendimia Seleccionada Rioja blanco (DOC) 2014, 12.5%, 13.99

Stockists: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Co. Waterford. The Parting Glass, Co. Wicklow. Simply Delicious, Co. Dublin. Matson's Wine Store Grange & Bandon, Co. Cork.

This is another Viura, another with the basic green sticker. Colour is a light gold but oh so bright and there’s a great floral and fruity mix in the aromas. Nothing too complex here, good fruit and acidity, with a pretty good finish, easy drinking and Recommended. Should match well with most types of salad and light food, as they say on the label.

Check out our mini-feature on leading Spanish winemaker Alvaro Palacios and how he is changing the balance in your Riojan red!
Watch out too for Rioja Rocks - some fabulous reds featured here.