You don't have to be a hoarder or deep-pocketed auction-goer to drink well-aged wine. Here, we spotlight affordable old bottles to buy now.
R. López de Heredia 2003 Viña Gravonia Blanco Rioja Crianza ($20) and 1998 Viña Tondonia Blanco Rioja Reserva ($38): López de Heredia is no secret. It's long been a favorite of sommeliers and wine geeks, and with good reason. In the largely modernized Rioja region, this 136-year-old winery makes exceptionally good wines in a very traditional style and ages them longer than others do. López de Heredia's entire output—hundreds of thousands of bottles in most years—is sent to stores with significant age. (The 2003, from the Gravonia vineyard, is the producer's youngest white currently available.) As a source for reliable old wine that isn't so rare, López de Heredia should be on any wine drinker's radar.
The (Wonderful) Effects of Age: Because of slow exposure to small amounts of oxygen over years of aging in large oak barrels, López de Heredia's whites tend to have sherry-like qualities. Both the 2003 and 1998 bottlings are complex whites that smell a bit like almonds and dried fruit and taste slightly savory and olive-y. But they're otherwise very different. The Gravonia has a fresh, pineappley quality. The mellower Tondonia has scents of straw and honey, and its palate is loaded with flavors of hazelnuts and minerals.
Drink it With: These wines are at their best alongside salty Spanish snacks like Marcona almonds and Manchego cheese. The Tondonia would be an especially profound partner for Ibérico ham.