Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Riojas of Lopez de Heredia

Tasting notes from the office
We tasted three wines from this producer in the office last week.  Without any exaggeration, this was the best, most inspirational, selection of wine we’ve seen on our tasting bench in at least a year.  These wines are magnificent.

Lopez de Heredia has an iconic reputation as the bastion of traditional Rioja.  The wines aren’t deep in colour, they are not particularly marked by their barrel aging, they aren’t full bodied and they probably won’t satisfy those seeking sweet, rich and juicy fruit.  Each of the three we tasted bore a signature thread of bright, racy acidity.  They show the complexities of age, yet are wonderfully vital and fresh on the palate.  All the elements are in place for these wines to last a very long time.

A brief history
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. – Neal Martin

We will take delivery of these wines next month.  They are priced and offered by the bottle, inclusive of VAT, and will be packed in cases of 6 bottles.  Case purchases are also available in bond at pro-rata rates.

Gravonia Blanco 2003 - £18/btl  - * ONLY TWO CASES LEFT *

White Rioja but, perhaps, not as you know it.  This has oxidative elements but not markedly so and it’s definitely not one of those wines swamped in vanilla-scented US oak.  There are those who rate LdH’s whites ahead of the reds, and this makes a convincing case for that.  Apparently they originally modelled the style on the dry whites of the Graves, intending them for long ageing.  This is even more impressive for being, not only a decade old, but from the hot 2003 vintage.
A straw colour, this is fragrant and evolving mature notes, but has kept masses of freshness too.  The bouquet includes notes of wax, lemon blossom, a hint of honey and a floral, breezy character.  The palate shows brilliant freshness and cut.  Extremely youthful, the flavours follow the aromatic characters and finish with notes of brine and a saline minerality.  17.5/20.

Bosconia 2003 Reserva - £23/btl - * ONLY SIX BOTTLES LEFT *
Of the two reds we tasted, Bosconia came across as slightly sterner and more masculine in character.  The aroma had elements of meat, earth, some dark berries and something reminiscent of hot bricks.  In common with the white, the palate is shot through with a seam of brilliant acidity and the oak aging is hardly perceptible.  There’s a very slightly high toned edge, giving a hint of balsamic and a citrus peel element to the acidity.  The mid-palate is full of crisp, crunchy red berry fruit, with plenty of sap and a snap of acid and tannin on the finish.  Very tightly wound still, this probably merits 3-4 years in the cellar still.  17/20.

I struggle to think of other European wines from this heatwave year that still exhibit such youth and tension today.

Tondonia 2001 Reserva - £28/btl

2001 was a great success in Rioja, so I was really keen to add this wine to our offer.  Neal Martin rated this 95/100 in The Wine Advocate and it’s hard to think of other wines where such quality and maturity can be had for £28.
This was the first wine to show a whiff of oak on the nose, but the toasty character very much played second fiddle to warm, ripe, red Tempranillo fruit.  There’s also a perfumed, floral aspect giving notes of dried petals.  The palate shows their signature acidity and brightness.  Here, though, the wine has evolved mature and complex notes of earth, truffles and tobacco leaf.  The finish is fresh and ever so elegant. 18/20.

Please let me know if you’d like to order any of these.  Our standard delivery charge (£7.99 per UK address) will apply, although orders in excess of £200 value will be delivered free of charge.

If you’re interested in any of these wines please don’t hesitate – get in touch fast! Send me an email : 

Have a great weekend!

Matthew Hemming MW
Fine Wine Manager - Averys Wine Merchants

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