Rioja is the most famous red wine of Spain and undoubtedly one of its best. We pop the cork on two releases from famed Rioja producer Bodegas LAN.
Richness of Rioja
Winemaking in Spain’s Rioja region got a huge boost from Bordeaux winemakers who settled there in the 19th century. The French eventually departed, but left behind improved winemaking techniques, including the use of oak barrels for aging.
The earthy flavors of oak and leather have long been hallmarks of wine made in the Rioja region. We recently opened a pair of Rioja wines from Bodegas LAN, one the regions top producers.
The LAN D-12 2015 Rioja is 98% Tempranillo and 2% Mazuelo (also known as Carignan). The moniker is a reference to Deposit 12, the stainless steel tank that holds the most outstanding wine from each vintage. The grapes are hand selected from two plots in Haro and two in Laguardia. The wine gets 12 months in French and American oak and another year of bottle aging before release.
D-12 is a deep ruby in the glass. On the palate, there are nicely structured tannins with a rounded texture. The flavor is intense with tart red fruit, a touch of spice and a flavor of malted chocolate.
You can find the D-12 for about $18, and it is a rich, rewarding wine. Rioja can be tannic, but this was smooth and supple after we let it open up for a few minutes.
Stepping Up To Reserva
LAN’s Reserva gets an extra measure of aging, for 16 month in hybrid barrels with American oak staves and French oak heads. Afterward, there is another 24 months of aging in the bottle.
Although it’s ready to drink now, it could easily age for another five years. This is a savory wine with notes of baking spice and ripe cherries. The flavor is intense and the finish is long lingering. It’s a fine wine experience for about $20. It’s perfect for stews or marinated meat dishes.
LAN represents Rioja in three letters. The name is an acronym based on the initials of each of the three provinces that form the D.O.Ca. Rioja: Logroño (currently part of La Rioja), Alava and Navarra. LAN is a sure bet when you are seeking a flavorful Rioja wine at an excellent price point. The 2011 Reserva and 2015 D-12 are great choices for wintertime sipping.
Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.