Winter always marks a dramatic shift in the wines we begin to reach for. Many regions that have largely sat on the bench during the sweltering months have eagerly anticipated their call up to the plate. January also coincides with one of the very most exciting releases of the year––The Rioja Cellar.
 
Hiram Simon's WineWise, the official California importer of Lopez de Heredia, visits private cellars each year in and around Rioja. There, he tastes and acquires aged wines from the deepest and most serious cellars in the region. I gave my order request last year based on his tastings, and today, these pristine Tempranillo-based Rioja gems are in stock and ready to ship.
 
Over the last two years, the highlight of Hiram's selections, for me personally, is in these more relatively modestly priced wines. This is always such a rare opportunity to taste one of the world's most classic and age-worthy regions with simply perfect provenance. As mentioned, these wines have been aged in cellars in and around Rioja since their initial release.
 
Note: Gran Reserva (sp.) is part of a nomenclature implemented in 1982. Before that, the Reserva wines were all non-vintage and denoted as 6º Año, in the case of Tondonia. Any wine called Cosecha is by nature the wine subsequently marketed as Gran Reserva.

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Photo Credit: Julia Volk