Wine Reviews: Bodegas LAN

LAN's Viña Lanciano estate. Credit: Bodegas LAN.

LAN’s Viña Lanciano estate. Credit: Bodegas LAN.

For me, Rioja has always carried with it this sense of noble history and tradition. I associate Rioja with old, dusty cellars, giant oak vats, bottles with Spanish noblemen on the labels.

But Bodegas LAN is a relative newbie in this time-honored region, and does things a bit differently. Formed in 1972 in Rioja Alta, the name of this estate is an acronym based on the Rioja provinces of Logroño, Alava and Navarra. They produce a wide range of wines, from inexpensive, early-drinking bottles, to deeper, concentrated wines that benefit from years of cellar aging.

LAN’s best wines come from the Viña Lanciano vineyard, a 180-acre property that sticks out like a thumb into a bend of the Ebro River. Divided into 22 parcels, Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Garnacha vines (some of which are 60 years old) dig into rocky, riverbed soils. Being surrounded by water helps shield these vines from temperature extremes during the year.

Another thing about LAN that makes it unique is their barrel regimen and cellar room. The cellar has about 20,000 casks stacked in different pyramids. Installed around 2000, LAN has an automatic stacking and racking system that keeps their barrels organized. Every six months, the barrels are racked, emptied and tasted, allowing the winemaking team to adjust the barrel regimen if needed.

LAN also uses a wide selection of oak types, sourced from France, America, Russia, Hungary and Spain. Hybrid casks (with American oak staves and French oak heads) are used for the LAN Crianza and Reserva.

In November, I had the opportunity to taste through a bunch of wines from Bodegas LAN with Winestudio, a wine education and marketing program. It was an interesting time, learning about these wines, and being reminded about how much quality and distinctiveness they can show, for relatively few dollars.

These wines were received as samples and tasted sighted.

2016 Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
This has a pleasantly smoky nose with tangy red cherries, raspberries, and notes of menthol, vanilla and herbs. Medium-bodied, light/moderate tannins, tangy acidity. Juicy black cherries topped in roasted herbs, mint, coffee and pepper. Has an easy-drinking personality, but also shows some solid complexity for a Crianza. Aged 14 months in hybrid oak barrels, includes about 4% Mazuelo. (87 points IJB)

2011 Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Light purple color. Lovely depth of dark fruit aromas (cassis, black cherries), with lots of anise, violets, potting soil, spiced tea – inviting, integrated aromas. Medium-bodied with structured tannins, nuanced edges, moderate acidity. Nice core of blackberries, red and black currants, fleshy but tangy fruit. Complex earthy, smoky, charcoal, tobacco, violets. There’s a really crisp finish with all sorts of floral and spice tones. Three to four years could do this well. (90 points IJB)

2016 Bodegas LAN Rioja D-12 Tenth Edition Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Bright purple color. Quite concentrated on the nose, with red and black cherries, topped in mesquite, pepper, roasted herbs and vanilla. Smooth and velvety on the palate, built well though, with solid grip for a Crianza, and lively acidity. Smooth black cherries and crunchy dark plums, blended with smoky herbs, tobacco leaf, autumn forest and vanilla. Fresh and accessible but “serious,” too. Really opens up with some air, this is a delightful Crianza. All Tempranillo, aged 70% new American oak and 30% new French oak. A blend from a 30 year-old vineyard located in Lanciego (Rioja Alavesa) and one in Rioja Alta. (89 points IJB)

2015 Bodegas LAN Rioja Xtreme Ecologico Crianza – Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Bold purple color. Saucy aromas of black cherries, plum sauce, roasted fig, along with smoky earthy, coffee grounds, violets and spicy black tea. Medium-bodied, moderate tannins fresh acidity, this is bright but…

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