2002 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva, $45.00

Pulling a Bruce here. On almost a yearly basis Bruce and his wife pack up for France. Bruce's wife speaks French. They eat out on country French cuisine. They visit (re-visit) chateaus and wineries. Heck, I bet in a beret, at an outdoor cafe, Bruce could even pass for French. Usually, for his monthly picks, he celebrates his trip by picking great French wines he looks forward to trying, or wines he can't wait to brag about having, while wearing his beret. Well this fall my wife Joy and I are going to Spain! Like Bruce, trips to exotic places mean visiting wineries, and (in this case) bodegas. Like Bruce I'm prepping my palate by featuring a Spanish wine. At $45, this  Vina Tondonia is pricey, but worth it! This Rioja wine from a storied and acclaimed Bodega, is a religious experience—balanced, subtle and quiet, but with a powerful depth of character. Smooth, sneaky smooth, with a roasted tomato acidity that peaks out from age softened tannins. Spices? Lavender and rosemary with a hint of anise; I sure hope there's lamb in Spain. I can't wait to visit this Bodega. I want to try their Grand Reserva. Oh yeah, my wife speaks Spanish.