López de Heredia Cubillo 2006
Wine: López de Heredia
Grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano
Aged wines are usually elusive treasures reserved for those with extra-expendable income or industry connections. Most of us never get to experience the nuance and softness a quality aged red can take on, or rarer still, the nutty golden tones of an aged white.
What does it mean to age a wine? Those with great balance and structure will change over time, mellow and round-out rough edges.
In a global sea of quick releases to the thirsty, value-driven public, a steward of mature gems in Rioja, Spain prevails: R. López de Heredia (LdH).
6 reasons to love López de Heredia:
* Run by sisters Maria José and Mercedes López de Heredia with their brother Julio César
* Have remained true to their production philosophies for 138 years
* Build their own barrels
* Own all their vineyards
* Native yeast fermentation
* Age their wines for a minimum of 6 years before release
LdH is one of few bodegas in Rioja that grow their own grapes where most producers sell fruit to co-operatives. They are meticulously dedicated to preserving the standards and traditions of the bodega's founder, Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta. They are famous for their aged wines, releasing even the crianza wines after nearly 10 years of age. This 2006 is the current available vintage. I recently glimpsed a DI offering that listed bottles reaching back to the 1960s. Collector wines, for sure. But the R. López de Heredia Crianza 'Cubillo' 2006 is affordable, even for a special occasion purchase. For around or under $30 you can drink like a big shot.
Made with 65% tempranillo, 25% garnacho, with mazuelo and graciano making up the balance. Notes of licorice and leather, dried plum and vanilla. Great structure and acidity with soft tannins. Highly approachable with an overall flavor profile that opens as it sits in the glass. It's better the second day. Pair with Manchego cheese, jamón (prosciutto can be easier to find), Marcona almonds, dried dates.