Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza DOC Rioja Spain 2016

Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza DOC Rioja Spain 2016

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2016 López de Heredia Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza

Wine Advocate 94 points

Drink Date:
2024 - 2032

The 2016 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza was surprising, spectacular, elegant, clean and fresh like few vintages before. It was a superb year, with quality, quantity and freshness. It's quite the opposite from the previous 2015, which was a much warmer and riper year. The 2016s have moderate alcohol and especially the perception of less ripeness (even though the alcohol is very similar). It feels very young, still quite primary. Mercedes explained, "Cubillas, a 24-hectare plot, is a vineyard that could produce Gran Reserva wines. It's a very good vineyard, but we would miss the Crianza in our range". In fact, the comment was that this vintage is even a challenge for the Viña Tondonia red "because of its price." It is indeed a bargain. "But it doesn't have the finesse of Tondonia," concluded María José. Anyway, it's super tasty. 92,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2022.

Mercedes López de Heredia told me, "We are fighting very hard to not change anything. Before, we were going against the flow, and now we are overwhelmed by demand." It was amazing to taste with Mercedes and her sister María José, who didn't stop talking the whole four hours it took us to go through the current releases. "I've been experimenting with stuff to seal the vats and the barrels, I've mixed beeswax with oil, and I've invented a kind of plasticine with the bitartrates but it's not fully waterproof. We used things that we cannot use anymore, and we have to find alternatives. Everything is a challenge nowadays." The two sisters speak with passion about their traditions and what her grandfather and father did for the family winery. The wines have not changed even if they have to adapt to new regulations that prevent them from working exactly as it was done in the past.

We talked about everything, including the "new" white varieties—they have some experimental plantings—though they are not very impressed by Tempranillo Blanco. "It's not very aromatic and so far, doesn't show the vibrancy of the old Viura, and we have so little Maturana Blanca that we cannot vinify it separately." As for the rosé, they explain, "We didn't have enough Garnacha to make it, so there won't be any rosé available until 2026 or so." I guess from the 2016 vintage...

There was talk about vintages and of course the recent harvest. "In 2023, we harvested in September, and it was extremely warm. For the first time, we didn't harvest in the afternoon because it was too hot." For María José, 2016 was the last classical vintage in Rioja Alta, perhaps only 2021. It's very much in the style of 2001. The wines from 2016 showed exceptionally well, but the show was stolen by the Gran Reserva bottlings from 2004; both wines from the Viña Tondonia deserve three-digit scores.

Published: Feb 29, 2024