Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Crianza Cubillo, 2012

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Lopez de Heredia is one of (if not the) finest producers in all of Rioja (if not Spain). Each of their wines are single vineyard wines, and the Cubillo vineyard is planted to Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo (or Carignan); the wine is mostly Tempranillo but does have a high proportion of those final three grapes. Thanks to the high concentration of clay and limestone in the soils, the wine has a remarkable, lifted minerality, somewhat rare in the region.

Lots of dark fruit, a firm structure and a hint of licorice and herbs make this a compelling, classic Rioja from a vintage rated Very Good by the Rioja DOCa. Lopez's on-site cooperage is responsible for crafting all of their American oak barrels, where the wines age for many years before bottling and another long aging.

One of the many clichés employed by the wine world is the adjective “traditional”. However, there is one winery where that adjective very appropriately applies. Little about López de Heredia has changed in the more than 130 years since its founding. It occupies the same historic cellars and unlike most of their competitors, which are now owned by outside investors, López de Heredia is owned, and every detail of its operation is handled by the family who founded it.

Due to the way the industry has evolved in Rioja, most bodegas buy grapes from dozens of small growers, but not López de Heredia. They own every inch of the vineyards that supply their wines. In addition, they eschew any use of commercial yeasts and rely only natural yeasts present in their ancient cellar.

A visit to Lopez makes this all very clear. When you descend into the cellar you are met with a rush of cool air tinged with the telltale odor of penicillin. Carved out of solid rock, fifty feet underground, the cellars are at a constant 54 degrees, perfectly situated for the aging of wine and the cultivation of friendly microbes. The walls are black and wet with the occasional patch of white mold. Inside you will find 12,900 American oak barrels and 72 ancient fermenters as well as one of the worlds great collection of cobwebs.

The bodega is now in the capable hands of the family’s youngest generation—Maria José, Mercedes and Julio César. Yet, still nothing changes. In fact, these three are as philosophically committed to the winery’s traditions as their parents and grandparents were before them.

The wines are always masterful but in certain vintages can be transcendent. Lopéz labels their wines in all three rioja categories, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Technically almost all of their wines meet the regions criteria for Gran Reserva but as usual they do it the old ways, making Gran Reserva only in exceptional vintage.

Professional Reviews

Antonio Galloni

AG 92
"Glistening ruby. Spice-accented aromas of red berries, cherry cola and candied rose, plus a smoky nuance in the background. Supple and energetic in style, with a core of zesty acidity adding lift and cut to bitter cherry and red currant flavors that take a sweeter turn through the mid palate. Finishes long and smooth, delivering gentle tannic grip, a snap of peppery spices and repeating florality. Drinking window: 2021 - 2029" -Vinous

Robert Parker

RP 93
"I was quite impressed by the 2012 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza, a classical Rioja that is nicely crafted, with less aging in barrel than the rest of reds and therefore with more fruit character and less López de Heredia signature. This was born as a red for tapas, a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho and 5% each Graciano and Mazuelo with 13.5% alcohol. It matured in well-seasoned American oak barrels for three years. It has ripe fruit (black rather than red) without excess and a pinch of spices and a twist of oak. 94,500 bottles produced. There are seven lots of this. I tasted a bottle that was filled in May 2018." -Luis Gutierrez

What importer Bowler Wine has to say about this wine...

This vineyard is 2 miles away from the winery at an altitude of 1,348 feet above sea level; the vines are an average age of 40 years of age. The soil is from the terciaria age, composed of clay and limestone. The surface is 24 hectares, and is planted to Tempranillo, Garnacho, Mazuelo and Graciano. Historically the wines from that vineyard were called "Special Harvest", but is now the source of their Viña Cubillo.

Details

  • Country

    Spain

  • Region

    Rioja

  • Grape Variety

    Red Blend , Tempranillo

  • Vintage

    2012

  • Size

    750ml

  • Farming Practice

    Organic

  • Sweetness

    Dry

  • Body

    Light Bodied

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