Meet the winery reinventing Riojan classics

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Hacienda López de Haro’s mission is to create modern wine classics – ones that please both wine connoisseurs and everyday consumers alike.

Based in Spain’s Rioja region, the winery is part of Vintae Group, an innovative, dynamic group of wineries founded by José Miguel Arambarri Terrero – a businessman with a driving passion for wine – In 1999.

Arambarri Terrero’s first foray into the winemaking field was focusing on bringing back local Muscat production, which had been something of a lost art since the late 19th century after a devastating phylloxera infection decimated Muscat production throughout Rioja and other sections of Europe.

Arambarri Terraro’s efforts led to the creation of Bodega Castillo de Maetierra – the only exclusively white wine producer in the Rioja region. Seven other wineries soon followed, spanning more than 300 hectares of vineyards, 38 different varietals, and 15 winemaking denominations of origin.

Hacienda López de Haro followed in as the Arambarri family decided to create a winery that, in the winery’s own words, “represented the very essence of Rioja”. They settled on San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a village devoted almost entirely to wine production that, according to local authorities, is referred to as “the golden mile of wine”. 

The area serves as the birthplace of Rioja’s grape-growing tradition, and is home to a number of Tempranillo vineyards – currently at between 40 and 90 years old – which flourish in the area thanks to the cool climate and clay-calcareous soil. 

The driving force at Vintae – and by extension Hacienda López de Haro – is technical director Raúl Acha, a fifth-generation Rioja winemaker who started harvesting grapes at age 6. One of the area’s best-regarded winemakers and wine experts, Acha travels thousands of kilometres across Spain every year with the aim of uncovering and expressing the terroir of Spain’s best vineyards.

The winery is devoted to putting classics of Rioja winemaking front and centre. Though the Arambarri family may use contemporary tastes as their starting point, their products zero in on the elegance and simplicity that makes those old favourites so beloved.

That “modern classic” approach is on full display in López de Haro’s Gran Reserva collection, which is made up of the most exceptional vintages produced by the winery since its inception, aged over long periods in new and used oak.

“The result is ‘Grandes Reservas’ that stand out for their elegance and for having evolved positively in complexity, approaching its point of maximum expression,” the company says.

Here’s what WineOnline has to offer from this unique winery:

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza by Bodega Classica 2017

Sam Fritz Tate, WineOnline sommelier: The 2017 Lopez de Haro Crianza has a mellow bouquet of dried herbs, terracotta tiles and red and black fruit that is very well-defined. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin: tart red berried fruit, laced with tobacco and dried herbs on the dry, crisp finish. This is a superb classical Rioja Crianza and a steal at this price.

$17.99 per bottle ($215.88 per case). Buy at WineOnline.ca.

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Blanco by Bodega Classica 2018

Fritz Tate: 100% Viura from 50-80 year-old vines near San Vicente de la Sonsierra in Rioja Alta and aged for 3 months in French oak barrels. White fruit and flowers on the nose, following through on the palate with riper fruit, good stucture, freshness and complexity. Long, pleasant finish. This wine is a steal!

$15.95 per bottle ($191.40 per case). Buy at WineOnline.ca.

Lopez de Haro Rioja Reserva by Bodega Classica 2015

Fritz Tate: Medium-high depth wine, ruby red colour with roof tile rim, which denotes its long barrel aging and its peaceful bottle aging. Powerful on the nose with primary aromas of ripe fruit accompanied by complex spicy and balsamic notes and a slight touch of vanilla. Balanced on the palate, it is a round and unctuous wine with ripe and sweet tannins, providing the wine with a long aftertaste: an elegant Rioja classic.

$21.95 per bottle ($263.40 per case). Buy at WineOnline.ca.

Classica Hacienda López de Haro Gran Reserva Blanco 2012 (OWC)

Fritz Tate: One of a number of new projects at this restlessly innovative winery in San Vicente, this small lot white combines Viura with 20% each of Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca and spends 36 months in French oak. Rich and concentrated, yet comparatively low in alcohol, it has smoky wood, creamy lees and pithy acidity.

$64.00 per bottle ($384.00 per case). Buy at WineOnline.ca.

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