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One of the most storied wineries in Spain, R. Lopez de Heredia was birthed out of crisis. When phylloxera began ravaging the vineyards of France in the late 1800s, French winemakers began looking to Rioja for quality grapes to turn into wine. Legend has it that Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landet, the founder of the winery and young oenology student at the time, carefully observed the decision-making of the French artisans. Don Rafael formally established his winery in 1877 in the town of Haro in the Rioja Alta subregion. The house style is defined by commitment to tradition, with few changes being made in the winemaking procedures for the last 100 years (they have been producing for 141). As a result, the wines of Lopez offer a window into a time that has passed us by. While most wines in Rioja labeled "crianza" are released immediately after the minimum two-year aging period needed to gain this age designation, Heredia chooses to release their crianza after nine years of aging, with a minimum of three years in small American oak barrels. These wines are a truly singular expression of old-school Rioja winemaking with a precise vision. The ‘Gravonia’ is 100% estate-grown viura, and the 2012 vintage proved to be excellent in spite of the dry conditions. Powerful and intense, it delivers a concentrated bouquet of golden wildflowers, dried chamomile, beeswax, and ripe stone fruit. The texture on the palate is voluptuous and mouth-coating, unfurling lush layers of fruit and savory umami notes before a briny finish wraps up the show. This will continue to evolve in bottle for several years - if you can resist drinking it now!