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A Fresh Release from an Iconic Estate: López's Bosconia 2012 Reserva Rioja

Stylized image of Lopez Vina Bosconia 2012

López de Heredia's winery is like none other; its ancient, snaking cellars, its on-site cooperage and the tightly-laced, firm, traditional wines made here set it apart from virtually every bodega in Rioja.

A brief history lesson: the plague of phylloxera (a vine-killing louse) hit France and devastated the traditional wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy in the late 19th century. Winemakers quickly began looking for alternative places to grow grapes, and the warm, dry plain of Rioja looked like a pretty good option. Many estates still extant here have their roots in this flight south.

López de Heredia was founded in 1877 by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, a Chilean immigrant of Basque origins, who came to Haro by way of France. He worked as a wine merchant, and after a few decades, began purchasing vineyards that today are synonymous with quality Rioja. Like many producers at the time, his goal was to recreate the famous recipes of France with Spanish material — in essence, to make Bordeaux and Burgundy out of a hodgepodge of unfamiliar varieties, most notably Tempranillo.

Viña Bosconia is the estate’s approximation of Burgundy, and is the only wine sold in a curved Burgundy bottle. Of course, it’s not Pinot Noir; rather, it’s a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha and a splash of Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano. It rests in house-made barrels for 5 years, and after bottling, it’s left to age in those old, cold cellars until its release. Like all of López’s wines, this aging regimen is well beyond what’s legally required. A lot of wineries would call this wine a Gran Reserva, though López calls it a simple Reserva. It’s powerful, age-worthy and deep.

Though comparing Rioja to Burgundy is like comparing apples to oranges, there's no arguing that clay and limestone soils impart something very special to a wine; Bosconia evokes the supple fruit and heightened minerality of the latter. The 2012 has just been released, and it’s another terrific wine from a most iconic winery.

It’s just starting to develop secondary and tertiary flavors: Tempranillo and Garnacha’s bright red cherry fruit is tempered by spices, cedar, tobacco leaf and eucalyptus, balanced by tannins that veer slightly towards rusticity —well-integrated, with just an edge of grip. Grilling season is here, and there’s few better pairings for smoky, savory fare than mature Rioja — we especially love it with grilled lamb chops or skirt steak.

López de Heredia, Rioja Reserva 'Viña Bosconia', 2012 $45.99


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