viernes, 22 de marzo de 2013

Tasting White Wines Lopez Heredia (Gravonia - Tondonia)



TASTING WHITE WINES LOPEZ HEREDIA (GRAVONIA - TONDONIA)

- Viña Gravonia White Crianza: 2003, 2000 (12€)
- Viña Tondonia White Reserva: 1998, 1992 (21€)
- Viña Tondonia White Gran Reserva: 1991, 1987, 1981 (51€)

Bodegas Lopez Heredia is a master of the art of controlled oxidative winemaking, a style of wines that where first established in this family business in 1877 by Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landera from Santiago in Chile. Their wines today are a tribute to their ancestor and the virtues of patience, tradition and family loyalty.

The personality of this wines is influenced by climate, soil, attention in the vineyards, wine-making and, finally, by the care it receives in the cellar during the lengthy period of ageing in oak barrels before its bottle ageing. It is a long, almost mystical, perfecting process.

The grapes are harvested by hand, bunch by bunch, with the curved knife called "corquete", preventing the grape breaking and releasing must that could ferment prematurely. Ensuring that the grape skin is not broken is aided by the emblematic containers made in the López de Heredia cooperage, which have a capacity of just under a hundred kilos.

The last part of the grape harvest takes place when the containers are emptied into the weighing machine - in hoppers. From there the grapes pass to the destemming machines, which gently separates the grapes from the stemps.  Then the white grapes are crushed, thus immediately releasing their must, and the white must ferments on its own in oak vats (60 hectolitre capacity).


The yeasts are vital to the quality of the wines since they cause fermentation; these micro-organisms are typically found in the soil, and are spread over the grape skins by insects and the wind. The main microflora in La Rioja are Scharomyces, Kloekera apiculata and Tomlaspora rosei.

During the biological process of fermentation carbon dioxide is emitted as the sugars are transformed into alcohol. Although the temperature never exceeds 15-18ºC, bubbles disturb the surface of the vat as if it were boiling - hence the popular term of "tumultuous fermentation". The tumultuous fermentation usually lasts about seven days, during which time the must becomes wine. However it maintains a certain percentage of residual sugar which has to be removed in a slower subsequent fermentation.

Once wines have been through both fermentation processes, and the sediment or lees have been removed, the wine is then ready to be aged in 225 litre Bordeaux size barrels in the underground cellars, in conditions of perfect temperature and absolute tranquillity.  All in all some 14.000 American oak barrels are perfectly ordered in the 6.000 square metres of cellar space.

During this period, a very slow process of oxidation (esterification) takes place through the pores of the wood, which play an important part in the development of the wine’s bouquet. This biological process is complemented by periodic rackings (once or twice a year), to remove the sediment that settles in the bottom of the barrels. The rackings of the barrels are carried out with rigorous precision, so that the impurities are in contact with clean wine the shortest time possible. It goes without saying that the barrel is never turned up to stand vertically throughout the racking process.

In other words, anything that might prejudice the good evolution of the wine in question is painstakingly removed, while the elements that contribute to flavour are kept.


The family Lopez Heredia argues that ageing wines should be seen as a pedagogic act; the wine is “educated", and hence should never be rushed through speeded-up improvisations which would destroy the biological process which give it its character. Wines need to spend a minimum of three years in barrels to begin to manifest their “education”. Ten years is the maximum barrel ageing permitted in the Rioja Alta region, and anything more than six years is unusual unless the wines are destined to become Gran Reservas.

In other words this wines display such a different character from their extended barrel ageing where the rough young tannins have been polished by maturation in old oak casks and the wines have developed the level of refined aromas and flavours that are only achieved by this type of winemaking technique. Paradoxically perhaps, the long time spent in wood results in wines that taste much less of oak than younger wines that may have spent only 12 months in a new oak cask. In any case the result here is much sweeter than that of the more brutally obvious oak flavours that so frequently overpower the fruit of many modern wines.

Bottle ageing is a process of reduction which gives a wine that has undergone excellent wine-making and barrel-ageing processes a certain smoothness and an infinite range of aromatic nuances that constitute its bouquet. Even their most commercial wines spend a minimum of six months ageing in the cellars before being released for sale.

More commercial wines are the result of blending of various vintages to obtain an average age, a process which is carried out at the end of the barrel ageing process. Gran Reserva wines, on the other hand, which have spent many years in bottles, are not blended. The year of their vintage is shown on the Appellation region label.

Not all vintages are chosen to be "great wines"; two or three per decade at the most are chosen because of their excellence. Making these wines takes at least seven years, at the end of which they are clarified with fresh egg whites. They are then immediately bottled directly from the barrel, without any filtering, and closed with a long cork.

The corks are further sealed with wax to prevent any contact with the exterior during their many years in the cellar. It is only in this long rest period that they acquire the category of "Gran Reserva", like perfect gentlemen who have nobly grown old, while still maintaining some of their youthful characteristics.


VIÑA GRAVONIA WHITE CRIANZA 2003

- Tasting note: Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Fresh and almost sweet, complex and developed, bouquet with aromas of third generation, aromatic herbs and thyme. Taste: Fruity, complex, developed and fine.

- Characteristics of the vintage: Clasified by The Regulating Council as GOOD. This year they were producing from 155 ha. of the 170 own by them in their 4 vineyards: Viña Tondonia, Viña Cubillo, Viña Gravonia y Viña Bosconia. They harvested a total of 951.476 Kgrs. of grapes. The yields were very high considering that this year could have been more difficult due to the heat wave that affected their vineyards from May until the beginning of September. The vines recovered thanks to the rain of the month of September. The harvest started in September 24th and lasted until October 23rd. Therefore, it was one of the longer lasted harvest in their History. This was due to the fact that they wanted the grapes to take maximum advantage of the late September rain. The experience due to the fact that the age average of the vineyards of Viña Gravonia is quite high, it allowed the vines to survive without suffering hydric stress and made rich and round wines capable to be stored for a long time.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (100%), from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period in barrels: 4 years, being racked twice a year and fined with fresh egg whites.
- Ageing period in bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12,5% Vol.; Total Acidity: 5 g/l.; Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: Perfect with all kind of fish, no matter the way cooked. Grilled seafood. Well seasoned white meat. Also very nice with pasta.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 60ºF (14º to 16ºC) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 25,000 bottles.


VIÑA GRAVONIA WHITE CRIANZA 2000

- Tasting note: Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Complex and developed. Bouquet with aromas of third generation, wet wood. Taste: Fruity, complex, developed and fine

- Characteristics of the vintage: Recorded by The Regulating Council as good. There was a frost on March 30th that got to 2 degrees below cero. However it didn’t affected to the total quantity of the Harvest. There was as well another frost on April the 6th but didn’t damage either. Therefore, they harvested 995.044 kilos in their four vineyards. This was considered a record in quantity. In relation to quality for the bodega it was a very good year. They started the harvest in Viña Gravonia in advance to the average of Rioja: September 28th while the normal would have been October 12th. Harvest was not easy since the maturation of the fruit was irregular so it lasted a lot, until November the 5th. And only because they had patience and wiloin to take risk during the harvest they obtain very healthy and matured grapes with a very good quality average.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (100%), from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period in barrels: 4 years, being racked twice a year and fined with fresh egg whites.
- Ageing period in bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12,5% Vol.; Total Acidity: 5 g/l.; Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: Perfect with all kind of fish, no matter the way cooked. Grilled seafood. Well seasoned white meat. Also very nice with pasta.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 60ºF (14º to 16ºC) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made:  30,000 bottles


VIÑA TONDONIA WHITE RESERVA 1998

- Tasting note: Colour: Natural gold, developed. Nose: Fresh, complex, creamy and developed. Taste: Smooth, round, creamy fine and developed.
- Grape Varieties: Viura (90%), Malvasía (10%), all from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period in barrels: 6 years, being racked twice a year and fined with fresh egg whites.
- Ageing period in bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12.5% Vol. Total Acidity: 6 g/l. Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: Perfect with all kinds of fish, irrespective of their preparation; grilled seafood, well-seasoned white meat.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 61º F (14º-16º C) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 20,000 bottles.


VIÑA TONDONIA WHITE RESERVA 1992

- Tasting note: Colour: natural gold, developed. Nose: nuts, almonds, complex and developed

- Characteristics of the vintage: In Rioja they harvested 175 million litres. In López de Heredia they started the harvest in October 10, the most typical moment for the highest area of Rioja. The vegetative cycle was long, of 212 days. The quantity of rain was very high (673 litres/m2) and also at the wrong moment. It rained a lot during floration and this avoid the Tempranillo to produce correctly. It also rained during the harvest which helped the development of the botritys. And were all these problems the ones that condition the decision of the moment of harvesting making it even more important than in a normal year. That is the reason why the year was very good for the ones who decide well and harvested soon and worst for the ones who waited. In Viña Tondonia they harvested 40.000 kilos of white grapes: Viura and Malvasía. The wine has evolved very well maintaining its character of freshness and it is prepared for a long bottle aging.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (90%), Malvasía (10%), all from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period in barrels: 6 years, being racked twice a year and fined with fresh egg whites.
- Ageing period in bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12.5% Vol. Total Acidity: 6 g/l. Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: Perfect with all kinds of fish, irrespective of their preparation; grilled seafood, well-seasoned white meat.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 61º F (14º-16º C) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 16,800 bottles. 1,400 cases of 12 bottles.


VIÑA TONDONIA WHITE GRAN RESERVA 1991

- Tasting note: Wine developed and very balanced. Colour: Gold evolved. Nose: Persistent, perfumed and complex, vegetables. Taste: Round, smooth, full of persistent aromas.

- Characteristics of the vintage: Recorded in the Rioja as a very good year. In Viña Tondonia it was one of the best in History and this is the reason why they decided to make a Gran Reserva vintage that will improve through the years to come. There was a hailstone in September the 11th that reduced the yields but not the quality. The rain fall of the year was small and very irregular all over the Rioja. The bodega started harvesting in October the 14th. The alcohol average was 13o5 for White grapes and 12o5 for reds. These are perfect parameters for making wine to last.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (90%) and Malvasía (10%), all from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period: Barrel: 10 years, being racked twice per year and fined with fresh egg whites. Bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12% Vol. Total Acidity: 6.5 g/l. Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: All kinds of fish either boiled or grilled, preferably with sauce. All types of rice, including risotto-style. All different kinds of egg dishes. White meats such as chicken, turkey and pork. All pastas and cheeses.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 61º F (14º-16º C) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 15,000 bottles.


VIÑA TONDONIA WHITE GRAN RESERVA 1987

- Tasting note: Colour gold evolved. Nose: Its nose is persistent, perfumed and complex, gunpowder. Taste: Full of persistent fravours, aromas and acidity.

- Characteristics of the vintage: Recognised by The Regulating Council as Very Good. Kilos harvested in their vineyards: 843.891 kilos, both white and red grapes. Kilos of white grapes harvested in Viña Tondonia: 70.000 kilos. Budding: Normal for all grape varieties. Flowering: Normal cycle of 200 days. A cold winter. There was a frost in the month of May. June: Summer was very hot and dry. The vines showed excellent growth. September: Very dry. Rain fall: 1987, a very dry year, it rained 286 litres/m 2 which is half of the average for Rioja Alta. Dates of Harvest: The bodega started harvesting Viña Tondonia in October 13th.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (90%) and Malvasía (10%), all from their own vineyards.
- Ageing period: Barrel: 10 years, being racked twice per year and fined with fresh egg whites. Bottle: Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl. bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12% Vol.  Total Acidity: 6.5 g/l. Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: All kinds of fish either boiled or grilled, preferably with sauce. All types of rice, including risotto-style. All different kinds of egg dishes. White meats such as chicken, turkey and pork. All pastas and cheeses.
- Storage Tempertaure: 10 years in perfect conditions of constant temperature (57ºF / 14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 61º F (14º-16º C) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 14,000 bottles.


VIÑA TONDONIA WHITE GRAN RESERVA 1981

- Tasting note: Nose: Fine, complex and evolutionated “Bouquet" coming from the third generation of flavours, plant leeks. Taste: Smooth and developed, unctuous and consistent at the same time.

- Characteristics of the vintage: It was classified as. The weather was the luckiest in the 10 years around The worst thing for the quality in rioja is the spring frost because make the vegetative cycle shorter. In 1981 it snowed on may 13 and the small grape buds were frozen. That made the bodega expect the worst but then the autumn was very good because it disappeared. It did not rain neither snowed so the ones who were patience could harvest late and recuperate the time lost due to the may snow. Finally the harvest was of a great quality and even excellent although it wasn’t officially because it was shadowed for the 1982 harvest. Today, after the years specialist wine tasters and also wine enologs recognise this year superior to 1982.

- Grape Varieties: Viura (85%) and Malvasb (15%). all from our own vineyards.
- Ageing period: Barret 6 years, being racked twice per yearand fined with fresh egg whites. Bottle Rest, unfiltered, bottled in 75 cl bottles.
- Alcohol Volume: 12% Vol. Total acidity: 6.4 Gr/L. Residual Sugar: Very Dry.
- Gastronomy: All kinds offish, seafood and also some white meats.
- Ready to drink now, it can be stored a few more years in conditions of constant temperature (57°F/ l4°C)and humidity (75-80%).
- Serving Temperature: 57º to 61º F (14º-16º C) depending of mood and place.
- Quantity made: 20.000 bottles.

Bodegas Lopez de Heredia
Avda. Vizcaya, 3. 26200 Haro (La Rioja).
Tel. 941.31.02.44 – 941.31.01.27. Fax. 941.31.07.88
www.lopezdeheredia.com - bodega@lopezdeheredia.com

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