2007 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Rioja Reserva ©Ashley Hausman

A Love Letter to Lopez de Heredia

700 Words (Or So) on the One That Sparked an MW's Wine Obsession

4 min read

What was the wine? You know… the wine. The one that turned on all the lights? The wine that made you fall. The ‘aha’ moment wine? Everyone who has fallen down the rabbit hole of loving wine seems to have it — a wine that sparked this scintillating journey.

For me, it was a bottle of Lopez de Heredia that drowned out the noise in a crowed New York City apartment back in grad school. I couldn’t tell you now which vineyard or what the vintage was – that was entirely over my novice head. I know it was the oldest thing my mouth had ever laid taste buds upon, and I would learn soon after that I could actually afford it (or at least, my student loans could), with some vineyard bottlings in the $20s back then (and still are today). That bottle, and every bottle of Lopez de Heredia since, causes me to pause and feel a range of emotions.

Visiting the cellars at Lopez de Heredia. ©Ashley Hausman
Visiting the cellars at Lopez de Heredia. ©Ashley Hausman

Despite its Spanish origin, I am reminded of a Portuguese word when I taste these wines: saudade. It roughly equates to a feeling of nostalgia for something you never even experienced. These wines have an uncanny ability to transport me back in time (way back!) — their otherworldliness and soulful depth so singular. Their winemaking methods are fiercely consistent – a comfort when so many others understandably compromise and adapt to fit fickle, ever-changing tastes and trends. Lopez has become a symbol for preserving a style that has remained relatively unchanged for the 150 years of winemaking in the heart of Rioja’s revered Haro region. That history comes through in these wines — whether or not you know their story.

Fourth generation Maria Lopez de Heredia is a strikingly petite woman whose powerful personality is charmingly paradoxical to her frame. She carries herself with elegance and intention, supported by a strong wit and generational wisdom. I will never forget when we first met: she wanted to discuss her olive groves more than her wines. Her curiosity never quiets. A recent obsession has been the inner life of spiders and cobwebs in her cellar (a fascinating study). I recall when I visited the winery a couple years ago that graduate students were carefully documenting the relationship between these spiderwebs (and spiders of course) and their contribution to the cellar’s microbiome and the impact it has on terroir in the wine.

Viña Bosconia comes from the El Bosque vineyard, named for Burgundian Pinot Noir that was first planted here by Maria’s great-grandfather. As such, this wine resides in a distinctive, slope-shouldered bottle. And even though it is now Tempranillo-dominant, it conjures Burgundy: the style maintains an exquisite perfume with notes of dried cherry and spice accented by tertiary notes of wet leaves and mushrooms. There is always a sweet and sour tug of war that teases the tongue and speaks to the Tempranillo. A little more clay in the soils here give a richness to the mid-palate that sets it apart as well.

Extended aging regimes are a defining feature of Rioja wines, but Lopez takes this to the next level, aging their wines far beyond the required standards and consequently developing a signature style that is savory and mature. Umami is central to these wines (white and red), a sweet and sour tanginess that comes with time. Whereas Rioja Reserva is required to see a minimum of one year in barrel and three total years age before release, this Bosconia sees a minimum of five year in oak and an additional five years or more before being released to market. That’s even longer than Gran Reserva’s are required to achieve. I have always been blown away that I can spend less than $40 and purchase a benchmark, classic wine that already has nearly 15 years on it plus the ability to age for decades longer if I chose to cellar it.

Lopez offers up brilliant reds, whites, and even a barrel-aged late release rosé that comes out a couple times a decade. I think the best way to describe the feeling now when I hold one in my hand is simply “lucky.” These wines are a gift to our palates, our minds, our senses.

2007 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Rioja Reserva

2007 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Rioja Reserva ©Ashley HausmanRioja DOCa (La Rioja)  
Grapes: Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (10%), Graciano (5%), Mazuelo (5%)
Alcohol: 13.5%
Opinion: ★★★★★ (out of five)
• Food-friendliness: Versatile
• Value: Exceptional

           

Click on the wine icons to learn more

A beginner might like … that their aha moment is just beneath the cork. If you have not experienced wine with age, this is the place to start. It is affordable, mind-bending, and among the most historic wines on earth you need to know.

A wine obsessive might like … that they can have aged wine on the regular at this price. I mean, it still may not be for the Monday night budget, but if you’re craving a red that can inspire poetry and not drain the account, this is one that never fails to overdeliver. It will fast become a classic – a greatest hit. And those never get old.

 

Note: This wine was purchased by the author and her contribution was paid for by subscribers like you. Gracias.

Key to Our Wine Icons

– Practicing Organic
 – Certified Organic
 – Practicing Biodynamic
 – Certified Biodynamic
– Promotes Biodiversity
– Old Vines
– Heroic Viticulture
– Volcanic Soil
– Traditional Winemaking
– Clay Vessel Winemaking
– Family-Operated Winery
– Historic Winery
– Co-operative Winery
– Négociant
– Stay at Winery
– Olive Oil Producer
– Age-Worthy Wine
– Expensive Wine (+$100)
– Requires Some Searching

Support Us

Disabling your ad blocker will help support our mission.

Skip to content