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Bodegas Lopez de Heredia

vat room at lopez de heredia

 


lopez de heredia vineyards covered in winter snowEstablished in 1877 by Don Rafael Lopez Heredia, this winery in La Rioja Alta, Spain, prides itself on producing wines of great delicacy and elegance.

Viña Tondonia is the most famous vineyard, accounting for 100 of the 170 hectares of land, on which the traditional bush vines are grown.

The wines, which include the Viña Cubillo Crianza and the Viña Gravonia Blanco, are well known for being traditionally aged in oak barrels, before maturing further in their bottles. Before this process, the climate, the soil, the attention to the vineyards and the wine-making itself, all testify to the renowned, high quality of these wines.

Bodegas Lopez de Heredia is one of the most iconic producers of Spain's Rioja wine region and it is still fully owned and controlled by descendants of the original founder. It was founded in 1877 by Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta with the stated aim of making the "supreme Rioja" wine and having been inspired by the research of French winemakers from Bordeaux who had travelled to Spain in the mid 19th. century looking for outstanding potential vineyard sites following the devastation caused by the phylloxera virus in France. Already a keen student of wine himself he became convinced of the qualities of the soil, geology and climate of the area around Haro, the capital of Rioja Alta, which has since become famous as the best of the three sub-regions of Rioja making wines that are lighter and silkier than both Rioja Alavesa to the north and Rioja Baja to the east. The original winery, cellars and even the oak fermentation vats are still in use today while the shop area including the sales booth from the Brussels Exhibition of 1910 is housed in a stunning futuristic design by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid the profile of which echoes a wine carafe. Stringent grape selection, an adherence to traditional natural practices in the face of modern wine-making innovations and exceptionally lengthy ageing both in barrel and bottle all contribute to the stunning quality and complexity of the red, white and rosé wines of Lopez de Heredia.

 

The Wines of Lopez de Heredia

 

old bottles maturing at lopez de herediaLopez de Heredia produces red, white and rosé wines from four separate vineyards in Rioja Alta. Having originally started making wine using grapes bought in for the purpose the founder knew that only by owning vineyards could the quality of the fruit be guaranteed. The first vineyard he established was that of Viña Tondonia during 1913 - 1914, with Viña Bosconia (El Bosque), Viña Cubillas and Viña Zaconia making up the rest of the holdings, each of which has its own special character. They are planted with Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache of France), Graciano and Mazuelo (a.k.a. Carignan) for the red wines, and Viura and Malvasía for white wines. Tempranillo constitutes between 70% - 80% of the red grape harvest and Garnacha between 10% - 15% with Graciano and Mazuelo making up the balance. Vineyard management pays the utmost attention to every detail and this is reflected back in the quality of the grapes at harvest. Noteworthy is the lack of trellising of the vines with a more natural "bush" pattern being exploited. Both Reserva and Gran Reserva wines have very good structure with a profound depth and complexity of flavour. The Gran Reserva wines are stoppered with long corks and then hand-sealed with wax following bottling in preparation for the ten years cellar maturation. This ensures that no more oxygen enters the bottles during their long sleep thus controlling further oxidation. Such wines are only made in exceptional years and are at least 18 years old before being released for sale.

 

Viña Tondonia

Viña Tondonia is the most extensive vineyard, comprising 100 hectares of the total of 170 hectares owned by this bodega, and consists of alluvial clay deposits on limestone, the latter explaining the lightness of touch exhibited despite the power of these wines. Tondonia produces a red Rioja as well as white and rosé wines, the white being a blend of Viura (a.k.a. Macabeo in the rest of Spain) and Malvasia which are both grown in small sections of the vineyard that have a higher proportion of limestone soil. The Tondonia vineyard is used for both Reserva and Gran Reserva wines which is a tribute to the quality of fruit grown here. All Lopez de Heredia wines are unfiltered and fined naturally with egg white. Long barrel ageing, up to 10 years for the Gran Reserva Red, is followed by many years maturation in bottle in the vast cellars prior to release.

 

Viña Bosconia

The vineyard of Viña Bosconia (El Bosque) comprises 15 hectares of clays mixed with limestone and is planted exclusively with red grape varieties. The bulk is planted with Tempranillo (11 ha) with 2 hectares of Garnacha and one apiece of Mazuelo and Graciano. Wines made from grapes grown here tend to be a bit more full-bodied than those of Tondonia but still retaining great elegance. The same natural methods and maturation processes of the Tondonia wines are employed.

 

Viña Cubillo

Viña Cubillo is made from grapes sourced from the the vineyard of Viña Cubillas which has 24 hectares under vine (16 ha. Tempranillo, 4 ha. Garnacha, 2 ha. Mazuelo and 2 ha. Graciano) with a very similar geology to that of Bosconia. Although the wines from this vineyard are sold as Crianza wines the quality of the soil, aspect and the vines in excess of forty years old would make wines with the status of Gran Reserva at many other bodegas. According to Spanish DOC rules (Denominación de Origen Calificada) red crianza wines must spend a minimum of 12 months in barrel and another 12 months in bottle before release. Lopez de Herieda's Cubillo wines are treated to three years in barrel before bottling and further cellar ageing.

 

Viña Gravonia


viura vines for vina gravoniaViña Gravonia is made from grapes grown in the Viña Zaconia vineyard, a stony, south-facing slope just 200 meters from the Lopez de Heredia bodega itself. Just as with Cubillo the vineyard has 24 hectares of vines all of which is planted with the white Viura grape variety. The poor quality of the soil means that the vine roots must dig deep for their water and this gives rise to great complexity of flavour compounds in the ripened grapes. The vines' average age is 45 years.

If you are in the market for totally unique Spanish wines with great aromatic depth together with layers of complexity on the palate and which adhere to a long tradition of barrel and bottle ageing in the quest for palatal perfection then you owe it to yourself to taste the wines of Lopez de Heredia.

 

 

 

Video: Bodegas Lopez de Heredia en Haro, La Rioja

 

Videos: Tastings of Lopez de Heredia wines

  1. Lopez de Heredia, Viña Gravonia Blanco, Rioja, 2002

    Lopez de Heredia, Viña Gravonia Blanco, Rioja, 2002

    This superb white Rioja from the 2002 vintage has lovely aromas of honeysuckle and beeswax with a refreshingly crisp palate. This will drink well now and for another 5 - 10 years.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Macabeo
    Country Spain

    Out of stock

  2. Lopez de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Reserva, Rioja, 2001

    Lopez de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Reserva, Rioja, 2001

    A wine with fantastic concentration - full of ripe fruits caressed by oak with a nose to rival the best, this medium-bodied red Rioja from the Lopez de Heredia winery combines maturity with elegance.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Tempranillo
    Country Spain

    Out of stock

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