LAN Rioja Exploration
I have tasted wines from LAN for well over a decade, but I had never before tasted this trio, only the basic line-up. Those wines have always been correct if not particularly dynamic.
Given that association, I was in for a surprise here. I found these three wines immensely impressive. To start with, they are all delicious, and moreover, each offers such an immense quality-to-value ratio that the pricing is thoroughly hard to believe. I’d buy any of these three with great confidence.
Culmen 2011 Rioja Reserva 13.5% $55
Deeply colored, this tannic, feisty red takes no prisoners. Though the producer suggests you “decant at least one hour”, it is more likely that this wine is best shown after many more years in bottle followed by at least half a day’s aeration! That written, if you’re into masochistic reds, you can jump in right now. This boisterous bottling has pithy tannins, near-tart acidity and crushes the flavor charts with wild blackberries pitched up to the tune of the British black currant drink, Ribena. I’d avoid it for a while to let the mighty, new oak flavors resolve. Culmen is LAN’s best wine from its own vineyards. The grapes (mostly Tempranillo along with about 15% Graciano) are hand-harvested from LAN’s Pago El Rincón.
Viña Lanciano 2011 Rioja Reserva Single Vineyard 13.5% $20
This blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano tastes like classic Rioja. It has a come-hither quality that is utterly beguiling. It genuinely is hard to stop going back to the glass. And, at only 13.5% abv, there’s no need for extra restraint! The wine offers a creamy attack with a hint of woodsy, bitter tannin bite on the back palate. It’s all well integrated and will continue to fuse together. There is a profusion of mulberries and mocha from start to finish.
9 Edición del Depósito N° 12 “D-12” 2015 Rioja Crianza 13% $13
The label notes “Homage to tank #12….”, the vat where some of LAN’s most noteworthy wines are held. Deeply concentrated and impressively focused, this Crianza tastes more like many other bodegas’ reservas, just with better integrated oak. It offers a harmony and suppleness that is utterly irresistible. The aromas start with mocha-dusted blackberries and continue on to the more sultry, darker fruit end of the spectrum on the palate. Layers of youthful flavors continue to unfold on the finish, even after the wine has long ago left the palate. This wine is an astonishingly good value. If you like deep, rich reds, like Argentine Malbecs, you’ll love this in the same price point with a similarly voluptuous style.