Conde de Hervias Rioja 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Conde de Hervías is an incredibly unique and specialized micro-winery in northern Rioja Alta, where the sole focus is producing single-vineyard wines of the highest quality from historic vineyards in the village of Torremontalbo. Íñigo Manso de Zúñiga Ugartechea, together with his winemaking partner and wife, Yolanda García Viadero (an agricultural engineer with a masters in oenology), work highly prestigious plots of pre-phylloxera vines near their home in Torremontalbo, an incredible structure built in 1252 by the Visigoths. The property lies on the right bank of the Ebro River, in the Rioja Alta subzone of Rioja, where Atlantic climatic influences dominate and produce wines with outstanding aging potential.
Both Íñigo and Yolanda have spent their lives making wine in many regions throughout Spain and apply the sum of their experience and passion to this small, artisanal project. Conde de Hervías currently stands as one of the most classically unique and elegant interpretations of Rioja, miles away from the mass-produced Rioja wines found in Haro. The name Conde de Hervías is a noble title and Íñigo, being the fourteenth and current Count of Hervías from an unbroken bloodline in his village dating to the Visigoth era, is a sincere, soft-spoken country gentleman who exudes warmth, class, and timeless elegance. The House of Zúñiga is a Spanish noble lineage composed of the descendants of the kings of Navarre of the House Íñiga, first granted to their descendants by the Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V, King of Spain, in 1520.
Íñigo utilizes the traditional goblet (bush training) method for all of his vineyards, which helps preserve acidity and freshness in the wines and guards against heat damage. Conde de Hervías is produced from hand-picked, organically-farmed grapes, of which roughly 90% are tempranillo and 10% are graciano. He works in a very intuitive manner, selecting only the best fruit for his wines, selling any fruit that does not make the cut, and never relying on chemical intervention. This has been the way at the property as far back as anyone can remember. Native yeasts are utilized for spontaneous alcoholic fermentations, bringing the character of the vineyard to the wines. Recently, he has been utilizing a method called integrated fermentation, where alcoholic and malolactic fermentations happen simultaneously, bringing great harmony to the wine.
Finally, the aging process is never hurried; the estate releases small quantities of each wine only when the time is right for each one to express its personality. This process is élevage in the truest sense of the concept. Although his releases could be labeled either Crianza, Reserva, or Gran Reserva, he forgoes the traditional focus on time spent in barrel; rather, he wants to remain free to focus on terroir and doing what is best for the wine, without appellation restrictions.
Hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Tempranillo from Rioja, or simply labeled, “Rioja,” produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, whose best examples are fully capable of decades of improvement in the cellar.
Rioja wines are typically a blend of fruit from its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental, although specific sub-region (zonas), village (municipios) and vineyard (viñedo singular) wines can now be labeled. Rioja Alta and Alavesa, at the highest elevations, are considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier, Rioja Oriental, produce wines with deep color, great body and richness.