THE most ridiculous wine of all time.

Ok, so the title might be slightly over-the-top. However, given the wine I am about to present, I think it is justified: Lopez de Heredia’s Gravonia 2006. This is a classic marmite (love it, or hate it) kind of wine, you can just taste it. However, at £12.95 from, take some advice from me: buy it, and someone will love it.


The wine has a beautiful golden viscosity. This is followed with an intense bouquet of almonds, white peach and apricot. As Gary Vaynerchuck would say, this is a true ‘oak monster’.

The wine brings masses of honeycomb. Not honey, I’m talking about the whole waxy thing, in all it’s glory. This is the sort of wine that, to begin with, you imagine will eventually become cloying and sickly. However, that fear never realises itself, as fresh acidity lifts the whole experience.

Orange peel oil, pear, loads of thyme and pumpkin seed oil (honestly, I’m not being ostentatious!) accompany a long long long finish. Oh, and there is some moderate salinity too…

You can really smell the age on this, as the wine has broken down and developed a sherry sort of sweetness. There is so much going on, that you almost oversee the slight bitter undertone. Now bitterness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as it’s balanced. Here it sort of harmonises with the fruity, oaky pleasure, into something quite brilliant.

This would pair amazingly with pork; in fact it is kind of reminiscent of that acorny sweetness you only get from Iberico pork. 92 points

Learning point: Take time over this wine; its a real masterpiece.










Bodegas Roda, Rioja, Spain


I continue my series on travel to Rioja with another modern powerhouse of Rioja: Bodegas Roda.  We visited the Roda Wine Bar in the station district of Haro, a short stumble along the road from R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, La Rioja Alta and Gomez Cruzado.

The station district in Haro boasts a ridiculous density of top flight wineries – if you only have time to make one stop in Rioja this should be it.

Bodega Roda is really the new boy on the block in Haro’s station district – founded in 1987. Roda keeps things simple making only red wines. The entry level red Roda Sela is already of a phenomenal standard and this is followed up with a pair of fascinating reservas: Roda and Roda I.  The reservas are blended on the basis of the fruit characteristics of each barrel, creating the red fruit dominant Roda Reserva and the black fruit dominant Roda I Reserva.  Forming the vanguard is the flagship Cirsion which unfortunately was not available for tasting.

The tasting room at Roda is a modern affair, serving the wines by the glass and very reasonably priced plates of local cheese and charcuterie. Rounding this off with some bread and their superb olive oil makes a delicious snack or even lunch depending on your appetite. Under the tasting room lies a 19th century cellar and this environment is the perfect place to finish off any remaining wine sheltered from the midday sun.


The wines of Roda and a light lunch of Charcuterie, Bread, Oil and Cheese

Wines Tasted: Roda Sela 2012, Roda Reserva 2010, Roda I Reserva 2007, 2008

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Bodega Contador, Rioja, Spain

Bodega Contador is located in the town of Sin Vincente de la Sonsierra.  The bodega is most famous for the flagship Contador, one of the most expensive wines from Rioja, and the first Spanish wines to be awarded 100 points by Robert Parker. Benjamin Romeo of Contador began production in a rock hewn cellar under the castle of San Vincente although production has now moved to a modern winery in view of the castle. Contador makes modern Rioja with an methodical and rigourous approach to winemaking, as proudly shown by the data sheets provided on their website.


Rock-hewn Cellar under San Vincente Castle

Visits to the Contador winery are by appointment and can be tailored to suit your needs. Alternatively for those on a tighter schedule La Tercera Estacion wine bar in the town of San Vincente sells the lower half of the range by the glass, and the rest of the range by the bottle. We opted for the latter option as a break for lunch due to the large number of visits we had planned for the day. I have included some brief tasting notes below.

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