Close

A Salute To Tradition

That is what it's all about at the Bodegas Lopez de Heredia, one of the oldest and most prestigious estates in Rioja.

Ignoring trends, Lopez de Heredia has proudly and staunchly stuck to the tried and true methods that have worked for it for over 130 years. And in so doing, paradoxically, its traditional ways are enjoying a newfound respect.

The bodega is now in the vanguard, a shining beacon for younger wine producers not just in Spain, but all over the world.

One might scratch one's head in consternation, trying to understand how this seemingly antiquated winery whose cellars are draped with mold and cobwebs, fiercely protecting the old bottles in the bins within, could actually be viewed as the paradigm of modern viticulture. But yes they are.

For years following World War II, winemakers embraced modernization. New advances in science and technology offered shortcuts. But while some of the new knowledge was useful, these methods began to destroy the soil and the new techniques lowering the quality of the grapes and hence the wine.

Slowly, winemakers have realized that in order to create an outstanding vintage, "old school" is the only way to go, retracing their steps back to the wisdom and techniques of their forefathers.

Enter Lopez de Heredia: "We don't need to re-learn the past," says Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia, who together with her sister, Mercedes, her brother Julio Cesar and father Pedro, run the bodega that was founded by her great grandfather, Rafael and bears his name. "We never forgot it. We were taught not to forget the logic of history.

The other wave washing over Rioja these days is the debate of brand versus terroir. Even the biggest bodegas buy grapes from different regions, creating indeed delicious wines, but wines that say nothing of where they came from.

Not so Lopez de Heredia that has always owned its four vineyards and grown its own grapes. The result is that their wines sing of their provenance, like the lighter red from the Tondonia parcel or the more powerful one from Bosconia.

Stylistically-speaking Lopez de Heredia wines are singular. They believe that wine must be aged until it is ready to drink. The long aging process gives their wines grace and finesse and an elegant texture, subtle to the palate, which is the case with both their red and white wines.

At Eli's List, we have:

Reds

2002 Vina Tondonia -- $55

2003 Vina Bosconia -- $43

Whites

1998 Vina Tondonia -- $65

1999 Vina Tondonia -- $65

2005 Vina Gravonia -- $33