Sisters María José and Mercedes Lopez de Heredia make wine the old-fashioned way. Most of the equipment in their cellar hasn't changed since their great-grandfather Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta founded the estate, in 1877. They farm all of their own fruit from four single sites (each bottled separately) around Haro, a rarity in contemporary Rioja. The wines are fermented in giant, old oak vats, with nothing added or adjusted. They then rest in barrels made at an on-premise cooperage, in enormous cellars until bottling, and are then aged in bottle. The shear enormity of what they do is amazing, and that the goal of all this effort is quality, above and beyond anything else, makes López de Heredia a rarity not only in the wine world but in the world at large.
What is most important to understand about López de Heredia is that its wines are true terroir wines. Rioja as a region has many giant bodegas that source from throughout the region. In such a large region, there is little uniformity. Way back in 1913, Don Rafael founded Viña Tondonia, which would become one of the first, if not the first, single-vineyard Riojas. So while most of the focus of López de Heredia is on long aging, traditional cooperage, and ability to age, we must acknowledge and applaud the family for its dedication to representing its terroir.
“Viña Cubillo” comes from Viña Cubillas, a vineyard located about 2.5 miles from the bodega, and whose vines average 40 years in age. “Cubillo” is bottled only as Crianza, the youngest of the three age statements at the estate, although it exceeds the technical requirements of Crianza set by the Rioja DOCa. If you add all this up—single vineyard, old vines, meticulous winemaking, three years in barrel, additional time in bottle—it’s hard to find a better deal for traditional red wine. The bright red fruit flavors (thanks to a healthy amount of Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano in the blend) make this wine versatile with the food on the table—it’s perfect with tapas, or try it with a semifirm cheese such as manchego—and accessible to everyone around it.
López de Heredia
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