One of the best experiences I had while in Rioja last October was tasting several white Rioja’s. Yes, next to red Rioja, there is also white Rioja, and it can be a truly delicious wine. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of the white version around; only 5 percent of the total wine production in Rioja is white (another 5% is rosé, the rest is red). Strangely enough, 130 years ago the situation was quite different. Around 1880 much more wine in Rioja was white, and Alsatian vintners even came to help out in the area because of their knowledge of white grapes. This little detail was shared with us by Maria José Lopez Heredia, during a very brief visit to the bodega she and her sister inherited
Also amazing is that, despite the fact that in the 21st century there is very little white Rioja, two of the most famous Rioja’s are in fact the white Viña Tondonia Reserva and Gran Reserva by Lopez Heredia. These wines are made the same way as red wines, vinified and matured in wood with months of oak aging and only released on the market after years and years in the bottle. At this moment the white Viña Gravonia Crianza 2004, Viña Tondonia Reserva 1998 and Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva 1991 are available!