Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia, of the famed winemaking family in Haro, Rioja, has got to be one of the cutest women in the wine business.
As a short one myself, I mean this in the best ways. If I were a grandparent I’d want to pinch her cheek pink every time I saw her. Most infectious is her passion about her wines, very worthy of not only her excitement but mine and yours. I can go on and on and on about how these wines are made (look for my previous installment. ) but why don’t you go to Doug Polaner’s site http://www.polanerselections.com/producer.php?pID=648 for more info?
Last week I begged my way into a small tasting of several vintages of the wine, the most traditional…in fact….the only naturally made wine left in Rioja. The wines are always good. Most times they are thrilling.
Last year I attended the avant garde food fest, Madrid Fusion. There was a wine tasting component and there wasn't one white Rioja on the best white wines of Spain. I raised my hand and asked why. The answer given by the top sommelier in Spain and a respected wine writer, they can't make any! Lopez de Heredia(LDH) makes one of the greatest white wines in the world. Forget Rioja. In the world.
The people in Spain are nuts.
I fear that in their rush to get the attention of critics who respect soda pop more than real wines, they sold their wine's soul (and their best wines) to the devil. Praise the forces, at this point LDH's soul is not for sale. To miss drinking the LDH whites is to miss a religious experience (even to those of us who are not religious)
1995 Gravonia, as fresh as a squirt of lemon in a hazelnut.
1981 Todonia Gran Reserva, full of flesh and orange and spice and nutmeg. It was like a lemon drop of my youth.
Todonia Gran Reserva 1988, Burgundian. Chassagne-ish yet high toned with cedared vanilla and a nutty apricot minty finish.
1964 Todonia Gran Reserva, the big cheese of the afternoon. It spent nine years in oak and it was a powerhouse of complexity. Savory. Minty. Lively. Exciting. Layered like a lemon butter sauce yet it hits with a fresh raspberry flavor.
1976 Bosconia Gran Reserva. a powerful wine, not in the Parker way but in the more is less way. The perfume is intense. It was a little bloody and elegant. Heady.
1970 Bosconia Gran Reserva. salty, very salty, on the nose and in the mouth, but once it goes down the gullet, the saltiness disappears into a floral stage whisper.
1964 Bosconia Gran Reserva, hit me in the nose with a dose of Chanel #5. Packed with violets and rosy and then the slightest hint of barnyard. The texture was like suede.
1987 Bosconia Gran Reserva, I had had this happy wine once before. Stunning. It had a nutty cherry, gorgeous and full of velvet with a touch of cedar which just added to its complexity. A bit of Sen Sen which reminded me of my father (“Here mameleh,” he would say, shaking a few slender black chinks into my hand.) then fennel seed. And more bitter cherry and cinnamon that quickly transcended into kirsch.
1954 Bosconia Gran Reserva —having a 52 year old wine was pretty exciting. There was a bitter almond bite to it, the wine had started to fade and I wondered would HRT (hormone replacement therapy)help? Not that it seemed to need plumping but I just didn't think it was a good bottle. Still, it was quietly savory and delicious.
My Rioja chapter for ‘the book’ is based on this house. With wines this gorgeous it is hard to believe that the region is riddled with consultants from Bordeaux advocating micro ox during malolactic fermentation, cold soaks and rushing wines to the market. It’s enough to drive a woman to drink.