Sure-Fire Wine Gift: Aged Rioja

Wine people disagree with each other on many things, but red Rioja from R. López de Heredia isn't one of them.

2001 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva Rioja: Wine people disagree with each other on many things, but red Rioja from R. López de Heredia is not one of them. The 136-year-old producer uses traditional, low-tech methods to make beautiful, refined Tempranillo-based blends that are just as complex as they are enjoyable to drink. The 2001 growing season was very good in Rioja, and the wine from López de Heredia's Tondonia vineyard has aged wonderfully. It has scents of leather and tea, with cedar and berry flavors. There's one more thing that makes it an ideal gift: It's easy to find, which is a rare thing for a brilliant, mature wine that's so well-priced for its quality.

Drink It With: Not-too-heavy stews, like pork-and-shellfish, chicken-and-sausage or chickpea-and-mint.

Best Price Online: $34 at PJ Wine. (Find more stores.)

Also Look For: Bottlings from other good Rioja producers, like the opulent 2001 C.V.N.E. Imperial Gran Reserva or the 2001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial.

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