The wines of the great R. López de Heredia in Spain’s Rioja region are made to last.
For me, an unforgettable reminder of this came a few years ago in Spain when I tasted a bottle of López de Heredia’s “Viña Tondonia” from 1913. After more than a century, it still had life.
It’s understandable, therefore, that the most famous and most traditional winery in Rioja (and one of the most storied in all of Spain) has never been in any rush to release its wines.
López de Heredia’s 2009 “Viña Cubillo” — named after one of four vineyard sites, with the above-mentioned Tondonia the biggest and most celebrated — is the current release available in the United States.
While López de Heredia calls it a “crianza”-level Rioja for which only a couple of years of aging is required, the 2009 Viña Cubillo has spent the better part of a decade in the bottle after initial barrel aging.
The blend is 65 percent Tempranillo, 25 percent Garnacha, and smaller amounts of Mazuelo and Graciano. It all adds up to something memorable and profound, which is typical of Lopez de Heredia’s wines, whether red, white, or even rosé (all are given long aging before release).
The 2009 Viña Cubillo shows off a range of aromas and tastes, including plum and blueberry, fig, cola, roasted meat, and cedar. The oak is nicely integrated at this stage, the tannins are starting to soften, and there is a good deal of acidity to keep the overall impression fresh.
After a decade, it’s drinking beautifully and should develop for many more years, which is the essence of López de Heredia’s singular wines. This one is also a phenomenal value — about $25 — and has good distribution around the country.
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