Vina Bosconia 2008

Wine bottle label with red writing

Vina Bosconia Reserva 2008 by Rioja’s Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia

This warm hearted, classic blend of Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (15%), Mazuelo and Graciano comes from one of my all time favorite producers, Lopez de Heredia. Rioja’s MOST traditional ‘traditionalist’ still makes wine like they did in the 19th Century – holding back every wine until it reaches the point where it just begins to drink at its best. Neither driven by ‘modern’ technological wizardry, nor formulaic follow the marketing trends’ winemaking, Tondonia is a testament to how massive 100 year old old wooden tanks and underground cellaring shape wine in the best way possible. Vina Bosconia is Lopez de Heredia’s take on a voluptuous Burgundy-like Rioja style vs their firmer Bordeaux-like version, Vina Tondonia. This well rounded ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ offers tons of fleshy red fruit characters and perfectly counter-balancing structure. I thoroughly enjoyed the delectably pure juiciness of every last drop. Entering it’s 13th year, Bosconia speaks eloquently and elegantly to the cooler, more classic, 2008 vintage, compared to the louder, fire breathing 2009s. This is a wine for special occasions, holidays or contemplative conversations. Expect it to improve and then hold for several decades. 96/100 tasted 2.2021

A few thoughts on the producer. I first visited this bodega in Haro, Rioja at the turn of the century. It was love at first taste and sight. Back then, Rioja was embrawled in a battle between the ‘modernists’, embracing the new – not-very-Rioja-like – more easily sold ‘international’ style sweeping the planet, vs what they viewed as the tired, old guard ‘traditionalists.’

I didn’t have a dog in the fight so was happy to listen to both sides. And then I sipped Vina Bosconia from 1947. It profoundly shifted my perspective about what wine could be, indeed should be, about. Why fix something that wasn’t broke? The problem was/is more about consumer impatience.

Since then many in Rioja have chased the Yankee Dollar aping the exaggerated Californian-cum-Australian styles driven by the vulgar sense of taste of one particular American wine journalist. Through all this, Vina Tondonia ignored that noise and calmly chugged along sticking to its tried and true Rioja traditions.

Vina Tondonia’s winery was sometimes described, disparagingly by the ‘modernists’, as a museum. Ironically, it maintained a working museum that has preserved the essence of Rioja. Where the ‘modernist’ generation of owners have gotten rich off of internationalizing their production, over time their children have increasingly returned to the ways their grandparents and, like Tondonia, are focused on recovering the lost soul of Rioja.

Although Tondonia’s wines may not appear inexpensive to many consumers – across the board – they are bargains. Mainstream ‘reserva’ level wines, Vina Tondonia and Vina Bosconia are often comparable in quality to top wines from Napa, Bordeaux or Burgundy at more than 3 times the price. Both are comparable in age and quality to many more expensive ‘Grand Reserva’ Riojas. Extraordinarily, their Rose is released after 10 years and Blanco around 20 years, both flying in the face of a common belief that roses and white should be drunk young. Following tradition, their Grand Reserves are only declared around three times a decade and released after 20-30 years of age. In all these cases, the producers are carrying the added expense of carefully aging these wines so we can enjoy them at their optimal point of maturation.

In this modern world where the attention span of a gnat rules the norm, these wines can teach us a lot about truth that only time can deliver.