The “intense delicacy” of the last of the Mohicans in Texas


Tasting through the current releases of López de Heredia the other day in Austin made me feel like Big Joe Turner’s Mississippi bullfrog in “Flip, Flop, and Fly”: I’m like a Mississippi bullfrog sittin’ on a hollow stump/I got so many good bottles of wine, I don’t know which way to jump.

I was thrilled to see that the wines have returned to Texas, in the hands of a smaller distributor who seems to be treating the bottlings with the respect and care they deserve.

My friend Alice Feiring put it best when she wrote about the “intense delicacy” of these wines, using a Petrarchesque oxymoron. They are at once intensely aromatic and flavorful but show that unbearable lightness that I find so alluring in great wine.

Some of the most inspired prose in Alice’s The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization is devoted to the López de Heredia winery. But it was owner Maria José López de Heredia who called the winery the “last of the Mohicans”:

    When López de Heredia buckles — if ever — that style of wine is gone and cannot be replaced. I asked Maria José, “Are you sad about the way things are going right now?” Her answer shocked me. “Wine has been worse in Rioja. It’s not so bad now. There are good wines being made, but we are ‘the last of the Mohicans,'” she said, with tremendous pride. She actually liked being the last one.

I love the wines of López de Heredia and try to taste and enjoy them at any chance I get.

The 1989 Tondonia white was showing beautifully, even if it inspired a lively debate among the wine professionals gathered that day as to whether it was “off” or not. (“The release of a López de Herdia white,” writes Alice, “is always a love-it-or-hate-it affair. No matter what a drinker’s preferences, the wine always gets attention.”) I’ve tasted that wine maybe 10 times over the last year and I think that the bottle we tasted was right on.

I was also really impressed with the entry-level 2003 Cubillo (red), which showed uncommon grace for this wine. The 1991 Tondonia and Bosconia (reds) were simply stunning.

The wines won’t be an easy sell here in Texas (nor are they anywhere, for that matter). Their oxidative nature can be a turn-off for a lot of folks. But I’m so glad that they’ve returned to Texas. Tracie B and I will be drinking them for sure!

In other news…

Austin wine writer Wes Marshall reviewed Kermit’s CD today and previewed his listening party Monday November 9 here in town at Vino Vino (yours truly will be presenting Kermit and his producer Ricky Fataar). I haven’t been playing music professionally since Nous Non Plus’s last show in LA in May: I’ve been having a blast promoting this show and I love that feeling of filling a room. I hear there are just a few seats left! ;-)