Bodegas LAN

Rioja, rioja Spain

Founded in 1972, Bodegas LAN lies in the heart of Rioja Alta. Though a relatively young Rioja house, Bodegas LAN has gained a reputation for the excellent quality of its wines. This quality is derived from the grapes they work with, grown in their spectacular Viña Lanciano vineyard and other prime vineyard sites in Rioja Alta and Alavesa, and from winemaker María Barúa’s great attention to detail in the winery.

Viña Lanciano is one of largest and most striking single-vineyard sites in Rioja Alta, encircled by a meander of the Ebro river. The vineyard’s poor, stony soils and old vines, up to 60 years of age, are both conducive to low yields of very concentrated fruit. The site is divided into 24 plots of different soils and aspects and these are matched to the different grape varieties: Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo. The top site within the Viña Lanciano vineyard is ‘Pago el Rincón’ which boasts the highest elevation and the oldest vines and is the source of the fruit for the ‘A Mano’ and ‘Culmen’ wines. The vineyard is sustainably farmed without any use of herbicides and all the grapes are harvested by hand.

María Barúa has been the head winemaker and technical director since 2002, bringing both scientific expertise (with an academic background in chemistry and an oenology degree) and local knowledge (having been born and raised in Rioja). María is an expert on oak ageing and, just as individual grape varieties are matched to specific plots within the vineyard, a lot of work goes into matching each wine with the perfect barrel. Bodegas LAN work with a wide range of French, American, Russian and Hungarian oak from many different coopers and were also the first Rioja bodega to pioneer a hybrid barrel with American oak staves and French oak heads.

These hybrid barrels are used to age the Rioja Crianza and Reserva, both of which are a blend Tempranillo with just a touch of Mazuelo. The Gran Reserva is the product of 40-year-old Tempranillo vines in Rioja Alta blended with 6% Mazuelo sourced from the famed Viña Lanciano vineyard. The grapes from these old vines are intensely concentrated and capable of standing up to two years ageing in American and French oak followed by three years in bottle before release.

The ‘D-12’ Crianza is a nod to the cheeky tradition of Rioja winemakers choosing the best wines to keep for themselves. In Bodegas LAN’s case, this was always the wine in the ‘D-12’ tank. Each vintage, the most promising Tempranillo parcel is singled out and destined for ‘D-12’. Aged in American and French new oak barrels, the ‘D-12’ boasts intense aromas of cranberry, redcurrant and prune coupled with vanilla and cinnamon. 100% organic Tempranillo, the grapes for the ‘Xtrème Ecológico’ Crianza come from a five-hectare, organically farmed plot within Viña Lanciano. Fermented with native yeasts and aged for 14 months in new French oak barrels, this is a fine example of a Rioja Crianza, bursting with bright red fruit flavours of strawberry and cherry married with a marked spiciness.

The ‘Viña Lanciano’ Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo and is a beautifully elegant expression of sense of place. Aromas of brooding black fruit combine with a subtle smokiness and a lick of vanilla from ageing in French and Russian oak. ‘A Mano’ translates as ‘by hand’ and is a nod to the fact that the grapes go through a vigorous and labour-intensive sorting process to ensure that only pristine fruit makes it into the wine. Aged for eight months in new French oak followed by 5 months in new oak from the Caucasus, the ‘A Mano’ has the hallmark minerality of Viña Lanciano wines, coupled with juicy black fruit flavours and a perfectly integrated spiciness from the oak.

The ‘Culmen’ Reserva, meaning ‘epitome’, is the jewel of the Bodegas LAN crown and is only produced in outstanding vintages from the oldest Tempranillo and Graciano vines in ‘El Rincón’. This hugely concentrated wine is aged for 25 months in new French oak barrels, followed by a further 20 months in bottle. The recently released 2015 vintage was awarded 96 points by Wine Spectator.

 

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