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Elevate Your Wine and Food Pairings with the Wines of Bodegas LAN from Rioja, Spain

How good are the wines of Bodegas LAN? 


So good, I’m watching Spanish TV shows and movies to improve my Castillano. A trip to Spain is in my future. I must visit. I must.

I’m thrilled to share with you what I have learned about the wines of Bodegas LAN from Rioja, Spain. These wines were a joy to drink and pair with food. Tasting notes follow.

Wine with Food Please

My preference for wine has been gently shifting towards food friendly wines. When I taste a wine from a producer I don't know, or a new release from a winery I do know, my first thought is, “What would I pair with this wine?” I've learned that the Bodegas LAN wines scream to me, “Enjoy me with food!” Boy howdy, do they deliver.

While I’ve been drinking wine for decades, four if I’m honest, It’s only since 2005 that I’ve done so with true focus and attention. Working at a winery will tend to do that. My fascination with cooking also parallels my focus on wine. I’ve learned a lot about food and wine pairings these last 15 years and made many friends in the wine industry, and a few in the catering/restaurant business.

One of these friends, my friend Tina of #WINESTUDIO, encouraged me to participate in the Bodegas LAN tasting she and wine writer and expert Lyn Farmer (@fizzfan) hosted in November. We discussed how this winery works in the vineyards and cellar, their commitment to sustainability and innovation, and we tasted seven of their best wines. Yes, I'm now a fan. Now I crave these wines for my meals at home.

Thank you Tina, Lyn and Bodegas LAN!

This was a stunning month of conversation and wine. It's a true treat to focus on one producer, one region, from a part of the world I want to visit, along with friends new and old. Following is information on the winery, the winemaker a bit about the Rioja wine region and of course, my tasting notes and the food pairings I enjoyed with these seven wonderful wines.

Bodegas LAN 

Located in Fuenmayor, the heart of the Rioja Alta region, Bodegas LAN is a 50 years old Spanish winery in the north central part of the country. Rioja is now highly rated as a D.O.C.a. The LAN part of the winery name defines where the wine is made, in the three provinces that make up this D.O.C.a:  Logroño (now called La Rioja), Álava (a Basque province) and Navarra. Which they use in their marketing, "Rioja in three letters."

The three zones of Rioja.

: A recent change in the Rioja D.O.C. rules and regulations, now permits vineyard designation on wine bottles. This has led to some confusion, and concern by industry specialists. Also, Rioja Baja has been re-named Rioja Oriental (East). This should shake out over the next few years. And we'll all learn what is needed to pass the next test. 

María Barúa Bodegas LAN Winemaker

María Barúa Bodegas LAN Winemaker

Winemaker María Barúa joined the winery in 2002. Her father influenced her passion for wine, they would always share in the choosing of the wine for Sunday lunch together. After studying Chemistry and Enology, María took part in research relating to the color of Rioja red wines and how they change through barrel ageing. Oak and barrel aging is key to understanding Bodegas LAN wines.

As the Technical Director of the winery, María is the head winemaker. I was told that meeting her, you would say that she is the wineries spiritual heart. That she has an energy that is both energetic and calm.

María shared that she wants each wine to show its place of origin, not just the characteristics of a specific vintage. She loves texture, her wines are smooth without being overly rich. I attest to this, especially as you read my tasting notes below.

“We always try to ensure that our wines represent the vineyards and parcels that they come from. A wine is a reflection of the vineyard and we endeavour to make wines that are true to their origin. We base our work on the upmost respect for the potential of each variety, parcel and source. Barrel ageing should be – and is – carried out with respect for the grape variety and terroir, allowing them to express themselves fully, adding balance and complexity.” - María Barúa

What is the Rioja DOCa?

Rioja obtained D.O. (Designation of Origin) status in 1925. In 1991, it was promoted to D.O.C.a (Qualified Designation of Origin), a higher category reserved for wines maintaining a proven consistency of quality over a long period of time. Only Rioja and Priorat have this well earned designation and reputation.

Rioja was partly developed post-phylloxera by the French, with an over-emphasis on oak aging. A classic wine region, with a focus on wines made mostly of Tempranillo, it fell from favor and has been working to improve its image and perception. Which is what I'm helping with today.

The new vision looks to modern winemaking, while respecting tradition. Rioja has the ideal topographies for wine grape growing, micro-climates, diverse soils, elevation, slope, aspect, lake effect and the cool winds from the Atlantic, as well as warmer, moister winds from the Mediterranean. It seems to have it all today, with plenty of room to grow and adapt for tomorrow. I'm eager to experience this region personally.

Note: The Rioja DOC launched its new campaign: "Saber quién eres" (Know who you are) to promote the modern regional focus of the Rioja DOC legislation, updated in 2017. It gives producers more tools to communicate their specific terroir. 
María Barúa’s comment on the new rules in Rioja: "We will wait and see how the consumer responds, reacts to, understand all this extra information. At the end for us is about making quality wines.”  

Primary Red Grape Varieties for Rioja
52,442 ha Tempranillo (87%);
4,534 ha Mazuelo (about 8%)
1,240 ha Garnacha (about 2%)

With 65,841 hectares total growing area, Rioja has 600 wineries and 14,800 growers!

Tempranillo Grape Variety

Tempranillo is the primary grape grown in the Rioja region, and is referred to as Spain's "noble grape." It's been grown there since the time of the Phoenicians.

In Spain, it is also known as, Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Tinta del Pais. And in Portugal as, Aragonez or Tinta Roriz.

This variety thrives in continental Mediterranean climates. For sugar and thick skins, you need heat. With cool climates, acidity and elegance can be expressed. The Rioja region has all of this. It is common for Riojan Tempranillo to be blended from multiple vineyards in the region to deliver a more complex, and balanced wine.

Native to Spain, the varietal name is derived from the Spanish "temprano" which means, "early" since it tends to ripen weeks before other Spanish red wine varieties. With subdued aromatics, Tempranillo is often blended with other varieties like, Graciano and Mazuelo and extended oak barrel aging is typical to enhance flavors.

Oak Aging with Tempranillo

Bodegas LAN uses “tailored aging,” by using French, American, Russian, Hungarian, and Pyrenean oak and hybrid barrels. “We tailor the ageing to each variety on a separate basis,” making unusual pyramids of barrels by parcel, “to extract their maximum potential.”

The feeling is, that each type of oak has its own character. Oak from the Pyrenees adds a lot of polyphenols; Russian oak is less pungent than French, "respecting the primary aromas of the grape” says Maria. "We select oak that gives each wine its own unique and recognizable identity.

Note: The cellar at Bodegas LAN is special. They have a stacking mechanism that lets them group their wine barrels in pyramids to age together. A huge warehouse of barrels.

Maria likes the complexity of French oak and the tannin it gives, but likes the aromatic intensity of American oak. Until fairly recently, most Rioja wine was aged in American oak. The use of French oak is new. They also use "Hybrid barrels" which are a combination of American and French oak. This is unique to this winery.


French oak. Sourced from different forests in central France (Allier, Troncáis, Jupille, Blois), gives aromatic complexity, delicate notes of spice (clove, cinnamon) touches of menthol, smoke and cocoa. Also adds tannin, giving structure.

American oak. Sourced from Ohio and Missouri, from Appalachian forests, adds intense aromas of vanilla, coconut and aromatic plants.

Now that we have a good overview of the region, winemaker, grape variety, and oak program, let's look at the wines.


Tasting Notes - Bodegas LAN

The seven wines I sampled and reviewed are: Bodegas LAN 2016 Crianza, LAN 2012 Reserva, LAN 2011 Gran Reserva, LAN 2016 D-12 Crianza, LAN 2012 Viña Lanciano, LAN 2016 Limitada, LAN 2015 LAN Xtrème Crianza (Organic). My tasting notes are listed in order of tasting sequence.

Enjoying Bodegas LAN wines with food.

For me, my main take away was that these wines are meant to be enjoyed with food, friends and family. They spoke to me of elevated wine and food pairings, celebrations and enjoying time together. I had a marvelous time pairing all seven of these wines with food. Each wine a different conversation, different spices, seasonings, textures from vegetables to proteins.

Did I mention I had a great time?

1. LAN 2016 Crianza Tasting Notes

By law, Crianza requires a minimum of one year in cask and “a few months” in bottle. This wine is made in a hybrid barrel – part American oak and part French oak. It’s aged 14 months in these barrels, then at least 9 months in bottle before release. Blending is done within each barrel this way!

Question: Have you ever experienced a perfect pairing?
Answer: I have. This wine with Kimchi. Blown away.

Color: Medium ruby.
Nose: Medium intensity, light spice, soft cherry, focused, oak with cinnamon, delicate orange peel, hint of leather with perfume.
Palate: Smooth, cherry, dry, medium intensity,medium (-) body, medium (+) tannin, cola, light spice, medium (+) acidity, cola, orange peel, tamarind and cherry on the medium finish. Very dry, enough tannin for matching with fat. Good food wine.

After 5 hours: Less intense nose, medium body, medium intensity, sour cherry, pronounced tannin, bright, light spice, touch of pine needles, cherry cola into medium finish. Wants food.

Day two: Dry cherry, slate, spice, minerality, pepper mill on nose. Nice, bright dark cherry, medium body and intensity, focused to front, violets, black cherry, with soy,  tamarind, dark chocolate and coffee into the modest finish. Liked more on day two, toned down a notch. Good for food or casual drinking. And...a perfect pairing. See below.

Pairings: Good with Manchego cheese and green olive, but think acidic foods (tomato) would be better match. Okay with beef sausage, very good with fresh tomato. Wants acidic foods. Paired with Valdeon cheese and green olives, nice...tasty contrasts. Potato with tomato, onion, garlic, acid stood out in wine. With lasagna, worked well, tomato sauce, cheese and beef.

A perfect pairing with Kimchi. Stunning.

Perfect Pairing: Holy wow Batman! Phenomenal match with Kimchi. Amazing! A perfect pairing. Stunning combination of flavors. Someone asked recently, "What's a perfect pairing?" "You know it when you taste it." I replied. I knew instantly I had a perfect pairing with the LAN 2016 Crianza and Kimchi, oh and steak. I get chills just thinking about it. It was the Kimchi folks. Oh my word. I may have been expletive heavy at the time of this pairing. Go and find out for yourself.

Thoughts: With a suggested price of $14 this is a must buy. Try pairing with acidic foods, fermented vegetables, and roasted vegetables. I think you will find a happy combination. I sure did. When paired with Kimchi this wine gets my best recommendation - Highly Recommend!

Country: Spain
Region: Rioja Alta and Alavesa
Blend: 96% Tempranillo, 4% Mazuelo (Carignan)
Closure: Diam3
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $14
Sample provided by winery


2. LAN 2012 Reserva Tasting Notes

By law, Reserva requires three years total aging, with at least one year in oak barrels and at least six months in bottle. This Reserva gets two years in cask, and two years in bottle. The extra bottle aging sets it apart from the crowd.

Color: Medium (+) ruby.
Nose: Oak, medium (-) intensity, dried cherries, cherry candy in background, fine leather.
Palate: Medium(+) intensity, focus to front, dried cherries, orange peel, graphite, funky note (barnyard), very dry, medium tannin, medium (+) acidity, medium body, medium (+) finish.

After 5 hours: Rich nose, wine barrel, minerality, cherry reduction, sandalwood, dried orange peel, medium(+) intensity. Medium(+) body, medium(+) intensity, dried cherries, blackberry, violets, touch of fruit cake, medium acidity, dry, pleasant tannin wants fat, medium(+) finish. Perfect for a steak, lamb, pork roast, or sausage. Paella?

Day two: Nose, rich and heady, earthy violets, dried Bing cherry, light oak envelope, medium (+) intensity, nice. Lovely on the palate, fluid, dry with crunchy tannin, big wave of dark cherries and cherry compote, nice zing of acid filled the mouth and made me hungry, light herbal comment with blackberry and bitter chocolate nibs on the medium (+) finish. Lovely.

LAN 2012 Reserva was perfect with fried beef sausage.

Pairings: Manchego an excellent match, helps fruit in wine emerge from the oak. Bigger wine benefits from matching with richer foods (fat). Need some protein to match it (fried beef sausage). Very good with beef sausage, okay with tomato. Wonderful with fried beef bratwurst. Valdeon cheese not so much, unless with sausage and green olives. Fried potato with onion, tomato, garlic a good match, added a rustic quality to pairing (comfort food) just needed a runny egg to complete the meal. Lasagna, very nice, wine elevated the food pairing.

Thoughts: Pair with rich foods, cheese (but not funky), eggs, sausage, olives, tomato, pasta and will match with garlic, onion and potato too. Decant or enjoy on day two or three for drinking.
Strongly Recommend.

Country: Spain
Region: Rioja Alta and Alavesa
Blend: Tempranillo, Mazuelo (Carignan)
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $20
Sample provided by winery


3. LAN 2011 Gran Reserva Tasting Notes

Aged in American and French hybrid oak barrels for 26 months, followed by 36 months in bottle before release. This wine is not a result of blending post fermentation. Everything is selected prior to fermentation.

Lyn Farmer said, "The hybrid (barrel) is great because you get the subtle, silky oak tannin from the French barrel and the creamy, coconut note from the American. Bodegas LAN integrates their oak so well that it's the perfect marriage."

Color: Medium (+) ruby.
Nose: Medium intensity, plum, vanilla, fruit cake, dusty, soy, like.
Palate: Tart, dry, juicy, medium (+) intensity, medium body, pie cherry, sour orange peel, fine tannin on gums and tongue, finish short.

After one hour: Opened up, broader and richer nose, focused to front, plum, cherries, friendly tannin, fresh, happy wine.

After 1.5 hours:  Dark berries, black plums and fresh tobacco added.

Day two: Broad meaty nose, spice and dark cherry, focused, medium (+) intensity. Mouth filling flavor, bright, dark plum, tobacco and very ripe cherry, with black licorice into the medium body, medium (+) finish. Like. Perfect for a good book or a meal.

Day three: Medium (+) intensity on nose, savory dark fruit, tobacco, leather jacket, cardamon, soy. Medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, almost silky, very dry, leather-edged dark dried berries, surprisingly bright, focused to front and middle, tacky tannin on tongue, cherry compote and dark chocolate with a touch of soy on medium finish.

Day six: Drank beautifully. Flavors of dark, ripe Bing cherry, ripe plum, wine barrel, slate, dandelion, still fresh tasting, with fine tannin, focus to front, medium (+) intensity, medium (+) finish, gobs of cherry, red apple skin, and a hint of coffee. Enjoyed with spicy chicken soup.

Pairings: Manchego good/classic. The steak was a good match with flavors and fat, like. Kimchi was a good match, think Korean food. The chocolate torte not bad, not complimentary, not fighting. The fresh strawberry not bad, not fighting, pleasant companion.

Thoughts: A tremendous amount of life in this vintage. If it takes you a week to drink a bottle of wine, this is the one you want. Strong cellar candidate if you purchase by the case. Cellar for 10+ years or drink now with food, or decant over night. Very good with steak, kimchi and Manchego. Strongly Recommend.

Country: Spain
Region: Rioja Alta (Mazuelo and Graciano from Viña Lanciano vineyard
Blend: Tempranillo 96% (30 year old bush vines), Mazuelo + Graciano total 4%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $25
Sample provided by winery


4. LAN 2016 D-12 Crianza Tasting Notes

The D-12 is 100% Tempranillo, with grape sources that vary yearly depending on where they find the best fruit. For 2016, the grapes are from vineyards 15 and 30 years old. Aged in 70% American oak and 30% French oak. This wine is selected “hedonistically” after alcoholic fermentation and 15 day maceration, continuous pump-overs and extended time on the lees to balance the tannin.

They are looking for the most expressive lots to blend in vat D-12.

Aged for 12 months in new, extra fine-grained oak barrels. A very specific ageing profile aimed at highlighting fruit and enhancing aromatic complexity. María said of all her wines, the D-12 is the most expressive of true Tempranillo character.

Color: Medium (+) ruby.
Nose: Medium intensity, candied cherry, bacon fat, slate. Like.
Palate: Rich, medium (+) intensity, pleasantly dry, gently tart, modest fine tannin, dried cherries and tart cherries, with chocolate into the medium finish. Fresh and tasty.

After one hour: Rounder, herbal note with dried cherries, lovely lick of dark cherry down middle of palate. Cool.

Day two: Modest nose, light leather, candied cherries, slate, hint of orange peel. Dry, medium body, crisp on tongue, ripe cherries, ripe raspberry, medium tannin on gums and tongue, medium (+) finish. Yum, really enjoyed how it changed overnight. Happy drinking wine, and would be perfect for lamb chops (anything off the grill would be wonderful).

Day three: Nose, medium (-) intensity, leather, spice, hint of dark berries, bacon fat. Medium (+) intensity on palate, silky tannin, medium body, savory, ripe cherries pow in the middle, tobacco, soy, slate, medium (+) finish. Enjoyable sipper and waiting for food. Like.

Pairings: Manchego good/classic, the steak a good match, recommend. Kimchi was just okay. Tried with a flourless chocolate torte, not bad, okay pairing. Fresh strawberry brought out chocolate notes in the wine, not bad, tasty.

Thoughts: Great value here.

Country: Spain
Region: 30 year old vineyard in Lanciego (Rioja Alavesa) and 15 year old vineyard in Briones (Rioja Alta)
Blend: Tempranillo 100%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $20
Sample provided by winery


5. LAN 2012 Viña Lanciano Reserva (from the Estate line)

This vineyard site is located at a bend of the Ebro River. It is a huge loop so the vineyard is surrounded by the river on three sides. Viña Lanciano is 178 acres, surrounded by the Ebro River, on the natural border with the sub-regions Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Protected by the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, the vineyard contains unique micro-climates in each of its 22 plots.

As I've learned, this is truly a special place. I'm now a fan of this vineyard.

Color: Ruby, medium.
Nose: Medium intensity, lower key, sandalwood and rose petals in background, earthy raspberry, cherry cola. Showing some elegance.
Palate: Medium (+) body, medium(+) intensity, acidity medium (+), earthy raspberry, cherry cola, coffee, dry with tacky tannin on tongue, a little heat, orange rind, medium finish. Balanced and tasty. Expect this wine will still improve over time.

After 2 Hours: Smooth and fluid, brambly cherry dance, cola and slate slide into lovely medium finish, happy mouth. Wow. Big like.

Day 2: Modest nose, pow on the lifted palate! Flavors of red apple skin, cherry cordial, dried cherries, dark chocolate, and tobacco, lifted and mouth filling, very dry, fresh, tacky tannin on tongue, and just under lower gums, medium body, medium (+) intensity, medium (+) finish. All I wanted to do was drink. Yum.

Day 3: Lovely flavors, ripe dark cherry, whiff of currants, licorice/tar, hint of orange peel and coffee, dry, medium (+) intensity, medium finish, still fresh, focused, drink me, drink me! Yowzer.

Hmm, yum, hmm, yum.
Pairings: Day two I tried this wine with fresh strawberries. OMG. Blown away. Surprised. Stunned. The entire time I'm eating strawberries and sipping the 2012 Viña Lanciano Reserva, I'm saying contentedly to myself, "Hmmm...yum...hmm...yum..." I was lost in the flavors. It was also perfect with a garlicky Caesar salad, which I did not expect either. Stunning.

Other pairings I tried. Bacon: not bad, okay. The prawns : pretty good, I was hungry. The beef dumplings : interesting, complex flavors, savory, sweet, spicy, beef, veggies, worked well. The tomato on toasted bread: good match, can still taste the tomato through the wine. The green olives: good match, enjoyable. The Manchego: tasty match, complimentary.

Thoughts: Wow. Wow. Impressive. So good with food. Did not expect that, especially since all I wanted to do on day two was to drink this bottle, it was so balanced. I. Am. Now. A. Fan. Of this vineyard. Viña Lanciano truly impressed. This is a special vineyard.
Highly Recommend.

Country: Spain
Region: Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa
Blend: Tempranillo 100%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $30
Sample provided by winery


6. LAN 2016 Limitada (A MANO from the Estate line)

The 2016 Limitada is made from a single plot named: Pago El Rincón, a 5.34-hectare parcel located in the southern part of the Viña Lanciano estate, next to the El Rincón mountain. This is a special wine because it is from one specific vineyard parcel. Typically, as noted above, Rioja wines are made from a blend of Tempranillo grown at multiple vineyard sites. This is not a blend of Tempranillo. The oak program is special too.

Note: The 2012 Reserva (#5 above) is sourced from the entire Lanciano vineyard. 

Aged 14 months in French oak, then aged 8 months in Russian oak, then aged 20 months in bottle, for a total of 42 months. When we tasted this wine, it had been in bottle for 4 years.

Note: The Russian oak used at Bodegas LAN is European oak from the Caucasus and the Republic of Adygea (a heavily forested area on the Black Sea NW of the Republic of Georgia). It is similar in aromas to French oak, but it is less pungent, respecting the primary aromas of the grape. (courtesy Lyn Farmer)

*I will comment, as many did during this tasting, that this 750ml bottle was the tallest, heaviest, 750ml bottle most of us had ever held. It is big and HEAVY. The winery pointed out that this is a top tier wine. They do not make nor export many bottles of the Limitada. And they want people to think CELLAR the wine, drink later. Though, it showed beautifully day two with food. Impressed.

Color: Ruby medium (+).
Nose: Medium (+) intensity, soft, new leather, cherry cordial, white pepper, orange blossom, tar, enjoyable.
Palate: Fluid, medium body, medium intensity, yummy, bright spike mid palate, fresh cherry, cherry cordial blended with rose petals, chewy tannin on gums, medium finish with cola and dark chocolate covered cherries. Big like.

After 2 hours: Big and rich, dry, dark fruit, black cherry, coffee, slate, vanilla, tacky tannin on tongue, medium (+) finish. A bit aggressive for drinking, suggest pairing with salted, fatty steak.

Day 2: White oak, cinnamon and sandalwood on nose. Dry, juicy, blended fruits of boysenberry, raspberry, and cherry swirled around, focus hung low on the palate across the tannin soaked tongue with black licorice and dark slate keeping everything together, medium intensity, medium finish. Seemed very serious, almost brooding. Intriguing. Think it needs time to open up more. Like. Wants fat or time. Paired with rib eye steak - fantastic! Wants fat. Almost did not take a photo, so good.

Day 3: Perfumed nose, plum a bit earthy, raspberry cordial, cinnamon spice, slate and leather, medium intensity. Good weight, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, very dry, tannin tacky on tongue, dried dark cherry, gobs of blueberry, coffee, medium (+) finish. Very good. Wants a steak or some salty protein, still big, and big like. Cellar 10+ years. Start drinking in 3 years.  

Delicious moment.
Pairings: Fantastic with fried rib eye steak on day two! And a beautiful match with Queso de Cabra from Spain (goat cheese). This was a classic match, the steak and cheese both provided fat and salt. Wonderful. Wonderful. Go and try these pairings. Wonderful.

Other pairings. Bacon: good match, nice medley of flavors. Yum. The prawns (cooked in bacon fat, with red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic): not bad, should have grilled them, smoke would have helped. The beef dumplings were just okay. The fresh tomato: good match, really good. The green olives: good match with salty olives, complimentary. The Manchego: intriguing, berries in wine made cheese seem more like a dessert, yum and unexpected.

Thoughts: Big like at open. By day two, seemed obvious to me that this wine is too young to drink by itself now. However, it was thrilling with steak and Queso de Cabra. Day three, dry, tacky tannin dried out my tongue, big flavors, robust, ready to drink for me. I do enjoy a grippy wine. Bring it on! This wine is proof that Tempranillo, when properly grown and oaked, can be cellar worthy. I believe that there is at least 10 years cellar life left in this vintage. I have tremendous respect for the efforts at Viña Lanciano and the cellar. The work, and quality shine through this wine.
Highly Recommend.

Country: Spain
Vineyard: Viña Lanciano, altitude 400 meters, 30+ year old vines
Blend: Tempranillo 85%, Graciano 10%, Mazuelo 5% (Carignan)
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $50
Sample provided by winery


7. LAN Xtrème Ecológico Crianza 2015 (Organic)

Made from 100% Certified Organic Tempranillo "Ecological Mantible" plot in the Viña Lanciano Estate. Vineyard size 5 hectares, at an altitude of 400 meters with a descending slope in the East West direction. With sandy soils and abundant boulders. This is the first release to the U.S. market.

Bodegas LAN said, “From the beginning, the philosophy is the extreme care of the raw material. The management of the soil is done by intervines cultivator and manual hoeing. No chemical herbicide is applied. We want living soils.” This has typified the Viña Lanciano.

Color: Ruby.
Nose: Light at open, soft cherry, hint of spice and rose petals. With air opened to cherry, cinnamon, cardamon and orange pith.
Palate: Medium body, very dry, very grippy tannin across entire tongue, dried cherries, graphite, orange pith, vibrant acidity, medium minus finish. Whoo boy, needs fat or should be decanted. Within a few minutes cherry cordial and dark chocolate with a dash of herbs showed. Wants fat.

After one hour: Still very grippy, dry, medium (+) intensity, cherries and graphite, bitter chocolate.

Day two: Medium (+) intensity, bright, smoother, richer, dark chocolate covered cherries, yum, very dry, grippy, felty tannin on tongue and lower gums, cumin, graphite followed by a medium (+) finish. Still wants food, much friendlier for drinking. Okay with queso de cabra (sheep milk), very good with queso Iberico (softer with cow's milk, goat and sheep), good with Manchego (goat's milk).

Day three: Fantastic with baked potato slathered with sauteed mushrooms, onions, butter and pan drippings from steak. Had a salad and hot jalapeno. Ate with no time for tasting notes. Delicious!

LAN Xtrème Ecológico Crianza wonderful pairing!

Pairings: The first day, I grilled steak and shrimp. Yay smoke! The shrimp marinated in pepper flakes, garlic, lemon, evoo and salt. I basted them on the Hibachi with maple syrup: Yum. Exciting flavors, bite of peppers, smokiness and sweet. The steak was simply, steak, salt, pepper: Oh my. It made this wine seem softer and fruitier. Complimentary flavors, smoky background, fat and tannin met and played friendly together. Wonderful bite size meal.

Thoughts: That vineyard, Viña Lanciano, is special. This is a food wine. Pure and simply delicious.

Yes, a tannic wine, which drank very young. You want to pair it with fat. The Queso Iberico was good, as a blend of cow, sheep and goats milk, it paired well. I think it's the cow milk that did the trick (the goat and sheep milk cheeses did not work). The grilled shrimp and steak were so friendly with this wine. Grilled protein delivered, softened, and showcased the hidden flavors, and delivered pure pleasure. On day three, so very pleased how delicious the pairing was with baked potato covered by pan drippings, butter, sauteed mushrooms and onions. Total comfort food.
Strongly Recommend.

Country: Spain
Vineyard: "Ecological Mantible" plot in the Viña Lanciano Estate
Closure: DIAM5
ABV: 14.5%
SRP: $20
Sample provided by winery


These wines inspired my creativity in cooking, and increased my fascination for wines meant for food. The wines of Bodegas LAN, when properly paired with food, can deliver so much sensory pleasure. I crave these wines now that I know how well they can over-deliver. And if you noticed the suggested prices, value, value, value.

As I was once told by a Catalan wine representative, "Drink better wine."

Spanish wines speak to me at the table. They encourage me to think about ingredients for cooking, rice, shrimp, sausage, cheese, kimchi, tomatoes, etc. They speak of contrast and complimentary, of savory, sweet, spicy, umammi, acid, salt, fat, baked, grilled, and roasted. These wines are delicious on their own, but can shine with food.

I encourage to seek out Bodegas LAN. Create your own marvelous meals paired with these wines of Rioja. You can thank me later.


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Thank you for reading. May the new year bring you happiness and joy and wonderful wine and food pairings. As I tell my guests in my food and wine pairing classes,

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