Tasting Rioja in Bodegas Lan

For many people, a bottle of Lan might be their first bottle of Rioja or even Spanish wine for that matter. This winery has done a tremendous job in getting solid distribution in a great many countries, especially the US. I remember that the distinctive labels with their three letter name were always on offer at Trader Joe’s and at pretty appealing prices.

Of course, these lower-priced wines are what has become rather typical for much of the production of Rioja. They’re an attractive cost but blended quite heavily with next to no soul. If you want “Spanish red wine”, they don’t let you down, but at the same time, they hardly excite.

This batch of wine samples that Lan sent me represent something entirely different. With the exception of the Crianza, these are their single vineyard wines and they show what might actually be possible in Rioja were it change course a great deal. They also have a new labels so you might not be familiar with this look if you knew the wines from before.

I’m still of the opinion that Tempranillo needs a lot of work in the cellar to be an interesting grape but the last one in this series, A Mano is a damned fine wine that, taking the quality level in to account offers a great value as well.

I don’t know how many of these wines are reaching the US, UK, or other markets, but if you come across them, they’re definitely worth your time and even more so, your money.

Crianza 2011
Garnet in the glass with medium viscosity. Negligible rim variation. Bright, crisp red fruits on the nose, with the lightest waft of vanilla and a powdery chalkiness. Medium body with full tannins and medium minus in acidity. Falls out a bit in the finish and is a bit short overall. More typical of general Rioja both in style and price.

100% Tempranillo 13.5% 7€

D-12 2012
Viscosity medium, ruby, minor rim variation, red fruit, butter from coconut textures, clayish minerality and very light red fruits. Medium plus body, full tannins, medium acidity, lingering mouth feel, oak notes present but integrated.

100% Tempranillo 13.5% 13€

Viña Laciano 2010
Ruby in the glass with a good degree of rim variation. Crisp red fruits in the nose with herbal wildness, and fresh morning dew on top of a clay minerality. Mix of red and dark fruits in the mouth with a surprising degree of toast not found in the nose. Quite full tannins and endless acidity for a very lengthy finish. Pulls together nicely after an hour of decanting.

Tempranillo, Carignan, Graciano 13.5% 15€

A Mano 2011
Medium in rim variation with ruby color and medium viscosity. Dense nose packed with red fruit preserves, forest floor, definitive licorice, light cloves, and fresh wet limestone. Medium plus body with light orange peel notes on top of a vibrant acidity that lingers far in to the finish with light touches of wild herbs. Was tempted to shave off a little on the score due to the ridiculously heavy bottle but couldn’t do it. Simply a holistic and very satisfying wine.

85% Tempranillo, 10% Carignan, 5% Graciano 13.5% 30€