With Viña Bosconia Reserva 2013, which has just been released on the market, the four brothers from the fourth generation of the historic Bodegas López de Heredia in the Estación de Haro neighborhood want to pay tribute to their father Pedro, who died on Saturday, April 20 from 2013 at 84 years old. María José López de Heredia, great-granddaughter of the founder of this Rioja winery (she signs her emails like this), reveals that “our father had an enormous influence on our lives,” and adds that “he was a super demanding titan in everything.” Just by telling it he gets excited. She does not hide the great admiration she professed for his father, and affirms that he “continues to be very present and commands a lot from up there.” And he was a true Rioja institution.

Viña Bosconia is, according to María José, a “versatile” wine that comes from a farm that is “beautiful.” And she emphasizes that Viña Bosconia “has never been a second throwaway wine from the winery in terms of quality.” In fact, with one year less aging than the Viña Tondonia, the Viña Bosconia have given them great Gran Reserva. This overwhelming woman who loves history and archives, who studied Law and Theology at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, adds that “Viña Bosconia, like Viña Tondonia, is an infallible recipe from our great-grandfather.” Her great-grandfather and founder of the winery, Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, a native of Santiago, Chile, “bragged about his vineyard more than anyone else.”

Viña Bosconia wines come from their estate called El Bosque. Their name refers to the term of the vineyard from which they come. The El Bosque farm is located on the banks of the Ebro River, at an altitude of about 410 meters. Bordered to the north by the Sierra de Cantabria, the vineyards are planted on a slope and oriented towards the south, which makes the sunshine and accumulation of hours of light perfect for the proper maturation of the clusters.

They are vines planted in glass. María José López de Heredia remembers that “latitude dictates the hours of sunshine.” This maturation is also ensured by the clayey-calcareous and gravelly nature of the terrain and by the average age of the vineyard, which is about 40 years. It extends over a total area of ​​fifteen hectares, of which eleven are Tempranillo, two Garnacha Tinta, one Mazuelo and one Graciano. The farm where the Viña Bosconia grapes are grown is located, in a straight line, about six kilometers from Viña Tondonia, and at a slightly higher altitude.

All of this makes, according to María José, the Viña Bosconia vines “more difficult to grow.” In rainy vintages they have to be careful in selecting berries because of fungal pests caused by a necrotrophic fungus that causes Botrytis (rot). Their grapes are harvested a couple of weeks later, due to the delay in ripening, compared to those from Viña Tondonia.

All of this means that “the wines from Viña Bosconia are, in general, greener, but fuller at the same time, which means investing more time to refine them.” His great-grandfather, he points out, “bought his farm with overwhelming logic 147 years ago.” And in his winery they continue to harvest and produce as they did more than a century ago, with the same grape reception train. And he assures that “we preserve everything they originally did both in the vineyard and in the winery, which is perfect for our way of working.” In fact, María José López de Heredia has no doubt that “things will always prosper if there is conviction and true substance.” He runs the winery (CEO) with two of his three brothers: Mercedes (technical management) and Julio (vineyard management). She is also accompanied by her husband José Luis Ripa (commercial management)

The tireless conversationalist María José López de Heredia, the CEO of the winery, explains that with Viña Bosconia her great-grandfather “wanted to make a fuller wine so that it would adapt to a gastronomy that was then famous in places like Madrid.” She remembers that at that time the Riojas were too little alcoholic and, therefore, could not travel. Originally, her great-grandfather, due to his clear French influence, gave the wines French-inspired names.

Thus, Viña Bosconia comes from a wine that he made in the style of the French Burgundy, with a higher percentage of pinot noir, and which he called Rioja Cepa Burgundy. In fact, the concept “strain” was invented. At the beginning of Bodegas López de Heredia “the fine Médoc style was that of Viña Tondonia, and the Burgundy style of what is now Viña Bosconia, more corpulent. The “obsession” of this emblematic Rioja winery is to maintain the character of Bosconia, and that “we can differentiate it from that of Viña Tondonia.”

It was already difficult for great-grandfather to make Viña Bosconia. The vines of Viña Tondonia, a vineyard replanted between 1913 and 1914, are more resistant to water stress than those of Viña Bosconia and Viña Cubillo. It was replanted after phylloxera because they used grapes from this vineyard before. Phylloxera reached Tondonia in 1901 and the farm, and all the others, had to be replanted between 1901 and 1907.

The Viña Bosconia Reserva are made year after year. They are blended wines, aged for five years in American oak Bordeaux barrels (the winery does not work with other woods), during which the wines are racked manually and by gravity, about ten times, to subsequently age in bottle for at least one year, before going on the market. 2013 was a complicated year due to the rains, which decimated the harvest. 2013 was a vintage classified as good by the Regulatory Council of the Rioja Qualified DO. Unlike the three previous vintages, it was characterized by abundant rains, which reached 753 l/m2 in Haro, well above the 530 l/m2 average that is recorded annually in the jug city.

This circumstance, together with the cool temperatures that accompanied well into the summer, meant a slight delay in the ripening of the grapes, more striking when compared to the strong advances of the previous harvests, in such a way that the harvest work did not take place. They started until October 7. For this reason, and due to the decrease in the quantity of grapes, determined by the poor setting of the clusters due to the persistent spring rains, the harvest was completed on October 27, well before what was initially expected. The hail storm they suffered on July 12 also affected the amount finally collected.

From the winery it is stated that “in general, Viña Bosconia are wines that are both elegant, consistent, with great body, good layer and structure, with great complexity, fullness and expression.” It is a red wine made with Tempranillo (80%), Grenache, Mazuelo and Graciano. It was aged in barrels for 5 years, subjected to two rackings per year, done by hand. It was clarified with fresh egg whites and bottled unfiltered. 80,000 bottles have been produced from this vintage.

Bosconia Reserva 2013 has a medium-low layer, and is ruby ​​in color with a brick rim. Tasted in unique glasses from Bodegas López de Heredia blown in the defunct Cristal de Badalona and in a Burgundy Old World glass from Riedel. It exhibits good total acidity (6.7 g/l.) and citrus character, with notes reminiscent of blood orange and also licorice, cigar box cedar, leather and Cuban tobacco leaf.

It also shows red fruit (cherries) and scrubland (recalling rosemary like the one that grows on the edges of the vineyard). Great tension, some rusticity and freshness with 13.5º alcohol. Very fluid and balsamic, with good integration of the aging in wood. Despite more than a decade since it was harvested, it is a wine that will improve with more time in the bottle. In fact, María José López de Heredia recognizes that “our wines benefit from the bottle.” The winery assures that it can be kept for 10 years or more, as long as it is kept in perfect conditions of constant temperature (14ºC) and humidity (75-80%).

It is ideal to harmonize with roast meats, game dishes, with aged cheeses or even with fatty fish or kokotxas. María José López de Heredia loves to enjoy it with the lamb they roast at the Terete de Haro restaurant, opened in 1877 (the same year that Bodegas López de Heredia was founded). In fact, Pedro’s father only drank Viña Bosconia with the lamb. María José, who opens parentheses to point out that “Viña Bosconia is the most corpulent wine for us, but fine for the rest of us”, also likes it with some lamb chops with vine shoots, with a good steak, with a sirloin with highly concentrated wine reduction and truffle perfume or with oxtail. It is preferable to enjoy it in a Burgundy glass. Bodegas López de Heredia recommends serving it between 18º and 20º C.

Back in 1877, and as a result of the concerns created in the mid-19th century by the arrival of French wine merchants (who came to La Rioja to solve the problems caused by phylloxera in their vineyards), it was when Rafael López de Heredia and Landeta, a deep connoisseur and good student of these professionals, decided to follow in their footsteps and began planning and building what is now the winery. They have drafts up to 130 meters long, at a depth of more than 10 meters. Today at Bodegas López de Heredia, where three of the four brothers from the fourth generation of the family work, they produce around 350,000 bottles on average per year (of which about 80,000 are from Viña Bosconia Reserva 2013).

They currently export approximately 75% of their production after growing significantly in international markets in recent years. The United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and Canada are its main international markets. There are 170 hectares of vineyards and 12,900 barrels. They have already begun to think about how to celebrate their 150th anniversary while two of their great wines from 2004, Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva and Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva, have just touched the sky, obtaining the much-desired 100 points from The Wine Advocate.

They only receive professionals, by appointment, and do not accept visitors during the harvest period. Although they do have a food and wine space where you can taste their wines by the bottle. From Monday to Saturday except holidays, from nine in the morning to three thirty in the afternoon, they sell their wines to the public. María José López de Heredia states that “we are a large winery in age, but not in structure,” and that they have not always had it easy. In this sense, he points out that “we have gone through times where we did not find red carpets, and we have had to fight against the image of classics.” He adds that “we have lived through times when we did not sell our white wine and now we are missing it.”

The owner family is very concerned about the effects of the climate emergency. María José assures that “being ecological and sustainable is an obligation,” and adds, in this sense, that “we cannot destroy what feeds us.” She regrets that the word sustainability is becoming worn out. For her, sustainability is “austerity.” This is a characteristic that has governed the way of life of the four generations of her family, despite her great-uncle Julius Caesar’s fondness for Bugatti supercars. She even had a two-seater with a license plate number 14 from the province of Logroño that her brother, the grandfather of María José López de Heredia, tuned in his car workshop with a casing that they keep in the jar cellar to drive it to their home. taste. The family had up to three Bugatti.