Mercedes Lopez de Heredia, Winemaker. Read about her here.
A favorite of critics (the 2007 vintage was rated: 93 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points by James Suckling, 93 points by Wine and Spirits), R. López de Heredia wines are some of the best that Rioja has to offer.
"Tasting note: This wine has evolved perfectly showing a deep ruby colour with shades of orange. Its nose is persistent, full bodied and showing a lot of mature fruit, being dominated by the Tempranillo grape. Its taste is round, smooth, fresh, full of body and persistent.
Gastronomy: Perfect with roasted and highly flavoured meats, lamb and game" --Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia
This wine has evolved perfectly showing a deep ruby colour with shades of orange. Its nose is persistent, full bodied and showing a lot of mature fruit, being dominated by the Tempranillo grape. Its taste is round, smooth, fresh, full of body and persistent.
TA 96 Tim Atkin
The Bosconia vineyard, which has always been vinified separately at the winery, has more clay in the soil and tends to produce richer, plumper wines that are priced below Tondonia. This cuvée of Tempranillo with 10% Garnacha and 5% each of Graciano and Mazuelo has caressing sweetness, supple tannins and notes of dill and tobacco. 2019-28
JS 95 James Suckling
A stunning vintage of this Rioja classic. Ripe and concentrated, yet cool and delicate with tons of fine tannin. Lots of earthy, autumnal Burgundy-like nuances, as well as notes of violets and plums. Long, complete finish. Drink or hold.
RP 93 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
2006 was a hard year to follow, even if 2007 was a great year in Rioja and exceptional for López de Heredia. The 2007 Viña Bosconia Reserva shows a little tannic, fulfilling the reputation for being a more rustic wine than Viña Tondonia. There are notes of chocolate-covered cherries and hints of forest floor. Maybe with a little more time in bottle? 70,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in May 2014.
Lopez de Heredia - one of the most venerable producers in Spain– produces traditional, age-worthy Rioja. Their wines are legendary and still made the way they were when the winery was founded over 130 years ago. Following a tradition that has been passed down through generations, their wines are released at least 5-10 years after harvest, which provides added complexity and elegance to their Crianzas and Gran Reservas.
A rarity in Rioja, Lopez de Heredia uses only estate bottled fruit from their prized vineyards- Tondonia, Cubillo, Bosconia, and Zaconia- with the idea that the only way to get the best fruit is to care for the vines themselves. The Tondonia vineyard is their most famous; over 100 hectares, it is situated in a shell-shaped depression on the right bank of the river Ebro, where the most typical Rioja wines are grown. The soil is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone. Average vine age is 45 years old and organic farming and natural fermentations are implemented, creating wines that exhibit great terroir. Grapes from Viña Tondonia are always used in making their highest quality wines, with truly exceptional vintages becoming Gran Reservas. The first Reserva was bottled by the founder in 1890; a few bottles of this are still kept in the family wine museum.
The winery itself is a remarkable structure. When D. Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta began building the bodega in the late 1800's, little did he realise that his masterpiece would one day be acknowledged as an example to the rest of the industry of the most perfect combination of buildings and vineyards. Like many medieval masterpieces it is still incomplete. The buildings stand below and above ground, and are a veritable "cathedral to wine". Moving through the vaulted underground corridors and staircases, you find yourself travelling back in time, and the founder’s touch can still be sensed in the very stones and fabric of the building.
"I have adored, indeed occasionally worshiped, the wines of Lopez de Heredia for many years, so I am not ashamed to admit that visiting both their vineyard and their winery was a pilgrimage. Founded by Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landeta in 1877, it has withstood the tide of corporatization and homogeneity, and epitomizes timeless, artisan winemaking in their own individual, almost solipsistic manner. Technology is noticeable by its absence here. For example, to quote her sister Maria-Jose at a tasting that I subsequently attended in London: “Indigenous yeasts have adapted to high temperatures. To control the temperature during fermentation, we open doors and windows” and “malolactic is the invention of modern winemakers.” I had to check whether this was 2012 or 1912. If you were to award points for charisma, then this producer would be in a league of its own. That would count for nothing if their wines were not distinguished, individual, long-lived and above all, delicious. It is commonly known that if you are seeking bags of fruit and lashings of oak, this is not the place to come. My views and these scores might be irrational to someone with a penchant for lush, voluptuous Rioja. Lopez de Heredia is the apotheosis of traditional, classic wines: taut, fresh, bucolic, utterly charming and amazingly long-lived. I spent two or three hours with winemaker Mercedes Lopez de Heredia, who was celebrating her birthday with, appropriately enough, a bottle of Tondonia Gran Reserva from her year of birth. I urge readers to access the video I took of Mercedes explaining the vineyard in her own breathless style. In the meantime, I will crack on with the wines. 'Wines should talk by themselves,' Maria-Jose enthused to her enraptured audience at a tasting in London. 'My father was a vine maker, not a winemaker. Each wine is a reflection of a different land that my great-grandfather bought. Our wines respond to the history of Rioja.' I would add to her comments that since these are mainly aged wines, a bottle of Lopez de Heredia is an individual and each time you meet, you may see a different side to its personality. So treat these reviews as they are: snapshots at a given moment. We commence with their white wines and indeed, I know of several connoisseurs who rate these even better than their reds and I can sympathize with that view. " -Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, August 2012
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