For decades it was like a little secret. Almost no one knew about them. Maybe just a few Spanish and Basque here and there, some drinkers from southwest France who thought the wines paired well with fish, plus a small handful of Americans and Brits.
The Spanish themselves became obsessed with new things — French barriques, wines with big scores. They didn’t know what to do with the funny-looking bottles in wire cages that they inherited from their moms and dads. But Americans started to figure it out. At first, it was just a trickle of interest. Really it was just hard-core wine folks who started to drink the wines. But that circle expanded dramatically thanks to writers like Eric Asimov, who heralded the virtues of Lopez de Heredia. More and more folks tried the wines, and they couldn’t believe what these wines could deliver: a mature elegance that we normally only associate with Burgundy, but at what was still a fraction of the price.
I am talking, of course, about mature, traditional Rioja. This is something that everyone seems to know about now. The market, unsurprisingly, has responded to all the excitement. The Spanish have taken note, and the last few years has seen a series of releases from the great traditionalists of library wines going to the ’60s, and sometimes earlier. And the asking prices, sadly, have reached Burgundy levels: hundreds of dollars for anything from the ’70s or older.
There are still, however, a small handful of private cellars in Spain, filled with gems from the past. We are very pleased to have just acquired one at a very, very reasonable price. The collection contains wines going back to 1952, and there is even some old Vega Sicilia! Everything we offer will be at prices better than anything else we are seeing.
As usual, we will be offering this private cellar on a first-come/first-served basis to our customers who have subscribed to our rare wines list. Please feel free to email me if you’re not on the list and you want to be. Our offer goes out on Friday!