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Lopez de Heredia, Spanish Wine

1998 rosé?

Is that even possible?

Oh, yes it is.

Thankfully, there is a winery like R. Lopez de Heredia in Rioja, Spain to deliver such a rare, provoking possibility.  Before today, I had only tasted the reds and whites from the Lopez line, which are divine to say the least.  But this legendary rosé, composed of Tempranillo (30%), Garnacho (60%), and Viura (10%), was what I had been after since day one.  Even Asimov is smitten with the impossible harmony that is to be found in this pale piece of paradise.

To be honest, though, what has driven my curiosity the most is my incurable weakness for paradox.

Rosés, as a rule of thumb, are typically meant to be consumed young and fresh.  They embody that stage just before loss of innocence, as they dance to a tune that hasn’t quite assumed a tone of melancholic irony just yet.  They are fun, simple, and easy-going.

Not the Lopez Rosé.

For one thing, this rosé isn’t fresh off the bloom.  It doesn’t wear a true pink hue.  Rather it slips on a gown that appears antique, a rusty salmon shade that harkens twilight.  Take one sniff and you are summoned to concentrate if you care to get to know this alluring liquid.  There is the distinct outline of oxidation but an interior that seems to melt into minerals and sherry-like qualities.  On the palate, this wine will excite you with its sturdy acidity, it will woo you with its complex unraveling of flavors.  You may catch some citrus (orange?), a touch of the tropical, a meandering of mineral…but don’t get too hung up on the flavor profiling.  You are tasting a lost art.

When Don Rafael  Lopez de Heredia came to Rioja during the French phylloxera outbreak, in the middle of the 19th century, he was meant to stay.  He fell in love with the region and became one of the three houses who first established wine in Rioja around 1877.  One hundred-thirty-two years later, Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia has taken over as winemaker and continues to produce wine that reflects the passion and love that originally attracted her family to the vineyards.  They remain traditional in style, which Maria explains, “We mention tradition, not as an idea meaning immobility, opposition to chance, but as a dynamic and aesthetic concept in maintaining principles and criteria that remain eternal.”

This rosé is a product of that philosophy.  Aged for four and a half years (racked twice a year) in barrels that are crafted in their very own coopery, this rosé evolves into something that is highly complicated and distinctive.  This is the only Gran Reserva Rosé in the world.  It is a rare gem.  It is enlightening.

Whether you are a rosé fan or not, this is one you simply must experience.

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About ahausman

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.

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