Grapes have been grown and wine has been made in Spain for centuries. Much of the wine has been celebrated and esteemed worldwide. In May we had the delightful opportunity of visiting one of the most acclaimed wineries in Spain, Lopez de Heredia.
Located in central Haro, the heart of Rioja winemaking, Heredia pays homage to almost 150 years of making fine wine.
Founded in 1877 by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta (ah, those Spanish names – so romantic and evocative), the winery still operates in much of the original buildings constructed by Don Rafael.
Respecting tradition, Heredia still makes onsite its own barrels. Jose Maria Saez, the cooper, learned his craft from his father, the previous barrel maker. He works five full days a week at his art. After all, he’s the only one making barrels and Heredia needs hundreds of them every year and it takes eight hours just to create one from the raw American oak.
Coupled with this devotion to heritage, Heredia still farms one of the oldest vineyards in Rioja, Viña Tondonia. This is the undisputed king of all of Heredia’s wines.
While there, we sampled the 2002 Tondonia Reserva. Aged for six years in Señor Saez’ barrels, the Reserva is held back some additional years once it is bottled before it is released. Heredia ages its wine longer than most other bodegas. The 2002 is an outstanding wine, with a wonderful bouquet, smelling of leather, tobacco and earth. It has soft blackberry flavor with a black pepper finish. It metamorphosizes into a deeper, fuller, richer treat the longer it sits in the glass.
Maria guided us through all of Heredia and left us sitting in the warm morning sun, relaxing in their unique Adirondack chairs whose arms have been notched to accept, what else, but glasses of tasty Heredia wine.
In August, we’re going to Wine & Fire in Lompoc, one of the most enjoyable wine events around. Great wine paired with delicious food in a charming setting – who could ask for more? Buy tickets at http://www.staritahills.com/all-events/. Hope to see you there.
© Carl J. Kanowsky