Rioja’s Unique, Historical López de Heredia Winery: New Releases

RIO Vino Tondonia copyLôpez de Heredia is Rioja’s most traditional winery and one of the most special wineries in the world. It remains true to the winemaking precepts of its founder Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta who founded the winery in 1877, planted the original vineyards in 1913, and established the practices and traditions that continue today—extended aging in old oak vats and blending across vintages (up to the maximum of 15%). The winery keeps twenty different vintages in its cellars, waiting release to the market, which is usually ten or more years after the vintage. Our reviews of the current releases of the Viña Gravonia Blanco and the Viña Cubillo are given below.

Maria Jose shows how Lopez Heredia makes its own barrels

Maria Jose shows how Lopez Heredia makes its own barrels

We’ve tasted the Lopez de Heredia wines several times over the years, both at our offices and at the winery in the Barrio de la Estación in Haro. Old vineyards and historically traditional winemaking combine to create wines that are unique, expressive of their terroir, and very long lived. When we last visited the winery two years ago, Maria José, who manages the winery with her sister Mercedes and brother Julio César, opened a 1954 Tinto 6° Año and a 1964 Blanco 6° Año. Both wines remained fresh and vibrant despite their age. Our reviews can be found in Report #43 The Wines of Rioja—A New Look.

Importer: Think Global Wines

Lopez de Heredia 2006 Viña Gravonia Blanco ($30) 94 Revealing scents of almond, chamomile, and honeycomb, this wine may be Rioja’s most pure expression of the Viura grape. Given that this white wine has spent several years in oak and bottle, the palate is beautifully balanced and surprisingly fresh, showing minerals, and crisp pear. Made of 45 year old Viura vines in the Viña Zaconia vineyard and aged 4 years in American oak barrels and at least 5 years in bottle.

Lopez de Heredia 2007 Viña Cubillo ($30) 91 This wine is classic Rioja with excellent balance and structure and perfectly integrated American oak. It displays complex, earthy dark cherry fruit with good acidity and fine tannins. A blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Grenache, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo from 40 year old vines in the Cubilla vineyard. Fermented in old oak vats and aged in barrel for three years.

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