A Return to Ancient Rioja

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at Contigo, San Francisco, California

For lovers of mature, traditionally made wine, our favorite stomping grounds are Piedmont, Madeira, and Rioja.

There are two reasons for this. First, you can still find great old wines at remarkably low prices. And secondly, even ancient wines (when acquired from great cellars) can be counted on to deliver incredible drinking experiences with mind-boggling consistency.

While the longevity of wines from Piedmont and Madeira are well known, far fewer Americans have been exposed to the grandeur of old Rioja. But those who attended our wonderful Contigo dinner on June 1 may now understand our passion for these incredible wines. They experienced fourteen amazing traditional Riojas that made a strong case for the wine culture that once existed in Rioja.

But the wines we had in June hardly dented our library of old Riojas. And so on Tuesday, October 11, we went back to Contigo, with an all-new line-up. Included were not only 13 more red Riojas (from 1961 to 1985), but also four soaring examples of the classic barrel-aged white Riojas that are nearly extinct today. No wines will be repeated from the June dinner. Here’s the complete list of what we were drinking:

Whites 

1981 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 
1987 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 
1991 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 
1998 Marques de Murrieta Gran Reserva Blanco 

Reds

1961 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva 
1964 Bodegas Riojanas Vina Albina 
1967 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Reserva 
1968 Franco-Espanolas Royal Reserva 
1975 Vina Lanciano Reserva 
1975 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Gran Reserva
1978 Marques de Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 
1978 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Reserva 
1981 Bilbainas Vina Pomal 
1981 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva 
1981 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva 
1982 Bodegas Riojanas Vina Albina Reserva 
1985 Cune Vina Real Rioja Reserva

The wines were accompanied by a special menu created for us by Chef Brett Emerson, who, since opening Contigo in 2009, has made it an elite address for Spanish food lovers in San Francisco.

Related Products

Item Name Size Notes Qty Price
2001 CUNE Vina Real Oro Rioja Gran Reserva 1.5 L 6 $129.95 add
1988 CUNE Vina Real Rioja 6 $79.95 add
1970 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva JG94
RJW94
2 $195.00 add
1975 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva 5 $159.95 add
1976 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva 1 $175.00 add
1981 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva 1 $245.00 add
1982 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva 3 $145.00 add
1981 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Reserva 3 $175.00 add
1985 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Reserva RJW90 6 $79.95 add
2004 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Reserva WA92+ 12 $54.95 add
1952 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Reserva Especial 375 mL 2 $295.00 add
1964 CUNE Vina Real Rioja Reserva Especial JG95 6 $295.00 add
1982 Bodegas Lagunilla Vina Herminia Rioja Reserva 12 $74.95 add
1954 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Rioja JG95
RJW94
1 $545.00 add
NV Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Rioja 5 Ano (1970s Release) 6 $135.00 add
1994 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rioja Reserva NM96 1 $125.00 add
2004 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rioja Reserva WA94 12 $34.95 add
1986 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva Especial Blanco WA100 6 $495.00 add
1973 Marques de Riscal Rioja 6 $52.95 add
1985 Marques de Riscal Rioja 3 $45.00 add
1994 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva RJW91+ 12 $42.50 add
2001 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 12 $35.00 add
2004 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 12 $39.95 add
2013 Bodegas Olivares Monastrell Dulce 500 mL 12+ $29.95 add

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