Visiting this dynamic, Rioja- based Spanish wine company, part 3: Rioja and its old vineyards


vintae riojaMe (centre) with Raul and Ricardo 

The roots of Vintae are in Rioja, and they have a large, new-ish winery in San Vicente de la Sonsierra called Bodegas Classica. It’s the largest of the three wineries that they own, and it’s home to the Lopez de Haro brand, as well as some of the other Vintae projects. It was constructed in 2006.

rioja vintae

Before we hit the winery, though, we spent some time nosing around old vineyards in the region. This was a great experience: Rioja has some truly remarkable vineyards, yet because of the commercial success of the region, the vineyard story has largely been lost. It’s hard to taste the place when a wine is aged for too long in oak barrels, with an oxidative winemaking regime and intrusive oak lactone flavours winning out over the fruit characters. And when people have taken a single-vineyard approach, often they’ve picked too late and instead of using too much American oak, they’ve simply swapped it for new French oak. This is why Vintae’s approach is so refreshing, because they are looking to express these vineyards in some of their wines.


One vineyard was from 1902, called Riojanda. It is located in the village of Navaridas, and has some remarkable-looking old vines. Another is called Camino el Ciego. Based in Baños de Ebro, it’s 80 years old. Then there's another, the Corral del Alto vineyard, which is also in Baños de Ebro, and the vines here are 75 years old. The region has a treasure trove of these old gems.

The Lopez de Haro wines are pretty good, and represent great value for money. ‘Classic contemporary is our philosophy,’ says MD Ricardo Arambarri, and that is what they are achieving.

lopez de haro 

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Blanco 2015 Rioja, Spain
12.5% alcohol. Some (c. 20%) is fermented in barrel. Old vine Viura. Lively and floral with nice pear and citrus fruit. Some attractive melony richness here too. Nice bright fruit here. 88/100 (£8.99 Majestic)

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rosado 2015 Rioja, Spain
Pink with a hint of orange. Fruity and lively with some creamy hints. Nice juicy lemony fruit. There’s a crisp grapefruit finish, too. 87/100

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Tempranillo 2015 Rioja, Spain
Young Tempranillo with 3 months in barrel. Fresh, very pure and juicy with nice bright raspberry and blackberry fruit. Very fresh and with lovely fruit presence: ripe but balanced. 89/100 (£9.99 Corks Out)

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza 2014 Rioja, Spain
Fresh and direct with nice raspberry and blackberry fruit with some spicy oak adding interest, but not dominating. Juicy fruit drives this. Very attractive. 89/100 (Hennings and Corks Out, £10.99)

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva 2011 Rioja, Spain
A blend of modern and classical in style with appealing black cherry and plum fruit with some savoury spiciness from the oak. Fine hints of coconut and spice with notes of tar and leather. Good structure. Still youthful with nice personality. 90/100 (£11.99 Cambridge Wine Merchants, Hennings)

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Gran Reserva 2008 Rioja, Spain
Lovely concentration here with sweet black fruits and notes of vanilla and coconut lurking in the background. There’s a sweet elegance to the palate with real freshness and detail, and some spiciness on the finish. This could last a few more years, for sure, and will keep improving. 92/100

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Edicion Limitada 30 Meses 2008 Rioja, Spain
An estate planted in 1906, 12 000 bottles. Very fine and elegant in a classic Rioja style. Herbs, spice, leather and sweet black cherry and plum fruit, with nicely integrated oak and structure. Refined with good concentration and lovely elegance. Smooth and pure with a nice black cherry and spice core. 94/100

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Classica Reserva Blanco 2012
Our way of seeing the classics of Rioja: a new project. Complex and fresh with spice, pepper, fennel and bright pear and citrus fruit. Carries some cedary oak, and needs a bit of time. Lovely freshness and detail. Will be lovely in a few years. 91/100

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Classica Gran Reserva 2001 (first lot)
Lovely classic nose of sweet blackcurrant, blackberry and cherry fruit with some spice and vanilla notes. There’s also some leather and sweet damson, too. The palate is sweet and concentrated with lovely intensity, still quite a bit of fruit, and some first signs of maturity: undergrowth, prunes, herbs and leather. Very fine. 94/100

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Classica Gran Reserva 2001 (second lot)
Elegant and mature with refined herbs, spice, plums and black cherries. Quite restrained with some earthiness. There’s some elegance here, but it’s a little understated and less distinctive than the first. 92/100

El Pacto Crianza 2013 Rioja, Spain
14% alcohol. From old vineyards near Baños and Villabuena, with organic farming. This is terroir wine from one area, and made in a slightly more modern style. Sweet berry and cherry fruits with a fine spicy edge and some sweet oak. Has lushness but also freshness. Nice peppery notes on the finish. Modern but has elegance. 91/100

El Pacto Crianza 2014 Rioja, Spain
Modern and ripe with some spicy, cedary oak and fresh cherry and berry fruit. The oak is currently dominant, with a savoury, cedary character clamping down on the sweet fruit. Needs time and could be better with some more integration. 87/100


QP Reserva 2008 Rioja, Spain
14% alcohol. Blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano. Beautifully fresh and focused with lovely blackberry and black cherry fruit. Has a core of pure, sweet, but restrained fruit with some savoury spiciness. Has real integration of flavour with elegance and purity. There’s some structure but it is well balanced. Lovely wine. 93/100 (£9.99 The Wine Society)

QP Vintage 2010 Rioja, Spain
Just 4000 bottles. Single vineyard from San Vicente. 14.5% alcohol. Ripe, rich and complex with bold spiciness and some vanilla and coconut. Dense and tannic with nice spiciness. Very youthful and needs time to integrate. At least a few years in bottle. 89/100

See also:

The wines of Marques de Murrieta
Visiting Rioja (series)
Vintae Part 2, Garnachas de Espana
Vintae Part 3, in the vineyards of Rioja

Wines tasted 10/16

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