The Lopez family is now in its 5th generation with 4th generation brothers Carlos and Eduardo at the helm. The winery was founded in 1898 by Jose Gregorio Lopez Rivas. Jose immigrated to Argentina from Algarrobo in Malaga, Spain in 1886. In Spain, Jose was a grape and olive grower, and he came to Argentina to escape the devastation from phylloxera that had come to Andalusia. In Argentina, he worked very hard and saved money to bring his brother Rafael and his mother Feranda and other family members to Argentina. Jose and Rafael managed to rent a small piece of land in Maipu where they grew grapes and began to make their own wines. The first and founding brand was called “El Vasquito” and the current brand of Vasco Viejo pays homage to those wines.
The winery and the brands grew from this point forward gaining vineyard land and a bodega. In 1934, the brand Chateau Vieux was introduced, Vasco Viejo in 1950, Montchenot 1966, “Seleccion Lopez” in 1969, Casona Lopez 2000, and all these introductions of brands showcase different terroirs, blends, and aging but all in a style that is known in Argentina as the “estilo Lopez” (or Lopez style). So, while lots of Argentine producers have chased the “new” places to grow vines or the new winemaking ideas – Bodegas Lopez has stayed true to their beginnings.
One of the important themes about the Bodegas Lopez “style” is that the reds are aged in very large and very old French oak vessels from Nancy – 5 HL being the smallest and 35 HL the biggest. This was the traditional vessel and way to make wine in the early 1900s. This ageing of the wines gives them an aesthetic that links them to the old world. So instead of the typical, modern/fruit-bomb style, the Lopez wines from top to bottom offer a style and elegance that is rare for Argentina. Even the more fruit-forward Casona Lopez seems to show just a “nod” to the modern.
At the top of the Lopez Echelon are some truly unique wines in today’s Argentine landscape. The Chateau Vieux wines, which see extended aging in oak casks for 36 months, are reminiscent of old school Bordeaux or even Rioja, with gorgeous dusty, spicy and earthy fruit. There is both a pure Malbec as well as a mixed varietal blend. Lastly, there are the Montchenot wines which are small-production cuvées that see extended aging in both large cask and then in bottle. There are 10, 15, and 20 year old versions. These are beautiful, amazingly complex wines that show that, yes, Argentine wines can develop into beautiful mature examples of world class wine.