RETURN TO RIOJA – BODEGAS LÓPEZ DE HARO
I’ve lost count of the number of wine tastings I’ve presented in restaurants over the years! I’ve really enjoyed them and, judging by comments I’ve received, they’ve gone down well with those in attendance, plus the restaurants concerned and the bodegas whose wines we’ve tasted!
I’ve worked with these restaurants to help bring in new customers, to introduce people to eateries that they hadn’t previously visited. I guess that for some clients it was a one-off experience, but I know for a fact that many returned, making themselves into regulars. Everyone’s a winner again!
When selecting the restaurants’ wines for the tasting I’ve taken care to ensure that usually at least one of the House Wines was included in those scheduled for the tasting. Being honest, mostly in days gone by, there have been some restaurants where I decided not to do a presentation as the house wine selection, particularly, wasn’t of the quality that I knew my usual attendees would expect. Far more often than not though, House Wines were good enough to be spotlighted at such a tasting.
However, there has to be a balance – people should be able to taste the quality of the wines selected by the restaurant as their house wines, but new clients also would like to taste the quality of the fine wine list. All of this has to be within a budget framework that makes a profit for the restaurant on the night (albeit that the larger profit will be the addition of new clients), so they can’t let me loose on all the most expensive wines!
When asked to present a tasting at a restaurant in Moraira (now no longer in existence, so maybe I wasn’t that good?!) I was proudly presented with their red House Wine, a wine that they definitely wanted to us during the dinner. I’d not seen López de Haro wines before that, so I was keen to try it, the more so as they were obviously delighted with it.
I don’t remember the year, of the tasting or of the wine, but I remember thinking that this was a good start! The tasting went well, so I’ve always had a soft spot to Bodegas López de Haro. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never tasted anything other than their reds, so I was pleased to recently receive a white and a rosado as well as their Crianza and Reserva reds.
Part of the Vintae Group, about which I’ve written recently, Bodegas López de Haro is a Rioja winery that uses grapes grown in various different regions of the DO. In this way they look to bring the best of the differing terroirs of this, the most famous of all Spanish winemaking zones.
I’m going to start, not with their reds, as readers might expect considering my first experience of their wines, but with their white wine. At just 5.50€ this is a pretty good buy! It’s made with Viura (aka Macabeo in different parts of Spain) which, I’ll be honest, wouldn’t automatically endear it to me. I’m not a big fan of a lot of Viura, though I’m aware that in the right hands it can be very good.
Viura generally needs some help. This may be from the addition of another of the historically permitted varieties, or indeed from one or more of the varieties only recently brought to the party. Or, as has been the case for many years, it can be supported by some oak fermentation and or ageing. Lopez de Haro’s Viura has a helping hand from the latter, French oak as well as European oak, probably Hungarian(?).
Only a part of the total of harvested grapes are fermented and thence aged in oak and for only a short time. The rest is fermented in small stainless steel tanks where it is kept with its lees until the oak barrels have done their job. Then it’s blended. If this wine was a House Wine I’d be rather pleased. It was my preferred wine of the four!
A close second was the Lopez de Haro Reserva 2015. This Reserva red wine has had 10 months in French oak barrels, with extra ageing in bottle. Made with Tempranillo and Graciano, it has the glorious whiff of Rioja wine – you’d recognise it anywhere! It’s drinking perfectly now. Dark red fruit revolved around a sturdy structure of oak aromas and a little flavour. It has some depth and complexity, matching meat and BBQ dishes, though we also enjoyed it with a rich mushroom risotto, in which I’d poured a little when cooking!
Finally onto the rosado wine. Very dry, this isn’t a frilly rosé, it can stand up for itself (we also tasted it with the risotto!) and will be a good match for paella. It’s quite pale in the glass, though not the anaemic shade of lots of rosé wines these days. It’s made using the black grape Garnacha from old vines with the addition of some Viura, the white wine variety mentioned above. It’s a good aperitif wine too.
NB my next Wine Show on www.valleyfm.es is tomorrow, 4th July, starting at 12:00 – 13:00 hrs (CET). Great music as always and, of course, good wines tasted, with associated info & chat! I hope you can listen in!