- Tasting Notes & Technical Details
Founded in 1972, Bodegas LAN is situated 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, ‘canto rodado’ 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. ‘El Rincón’ 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, Pyrenean 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 the Rioja Reserva, both of which are a blend of Tempranillo with a touch of Mazuelo, and the Crianza has a dash of Garnacha. The Gran Reserva is the product of 40-year-old Tempranillo vines in Rioja Alta with Mazuelo grown in the famed Viña Lanciano vineyard adding extra depth. The intensely concentrated fruit is capable of standing up to two years ageing in French and American oak followed by three years in bottle before release.
The ‘D-12’ Crianza is a nod to the cheeky Rioja tradition of 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 harvest, 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’ Organic 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 very elegant expression of the unique sense of place of this staggeringly beautiful vineyard. Aromas of brooding black fruit combine with a subtle smokiness and a lick of vanilla from ageing in French and Hungarian 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 by berry to ensure that only pristine fruit makes it into the wine. Aged for eleven months in new French oak followed by six months in new Hungarian oak, the ‘A Mano’ has the hallmark minerality of Viña Lanciano wines, coupled with juicy black fruit flavours and a perfectly integrated spiciness.
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 22 months in bottle.
The Tempranillo grapes for the 'Xtrème Ecológico' come from the 'Mantible Ecológico' parcel within the famed Viña Lanciano vineyard - a prime site within Rioja Alta, located on a meander of the River Ebro. The five-hectare, organically farmed plot overlooks the ruins of the Roman bridge of Mantible and sits at 400 metres above sea level with an east-west aspect. Soils are composed of sandy loam and pebbles and all of the grapes are hand harvested.
The 2018 vintage in Rioja was marked by unpredictable weather conditions which meant that diligence was required in the vineyard to maintain the health of the grapes. Winter was cooler than usual with high levels of rainfall and a cool, wet spring delayed bud burst and caused some issues with mildew in the region. Milder summer temperatures than average meant that the harvest in the Viña Lanciano vineyard took place on 11th and 12th October, slightly later than usual. The grapes harvested were characterised by a marked freshness, precise aromatics and lower potential alcohol levels than usual thanks to the cooler than usual conditions throughout the year.
Upon arrival at the winery, the Tempranillo grapes were sorted twice - first by bunch and then by individual berry to ensure that only those in pristine condition made it into the final wine. Fermentation with native yeasts took place in cone-shaped tanks and lasted for two to three weeks with regular pump overs to extract the perfect levels of colour and flavour. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to new French oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation and 14 months ageing.