domingo, 17 de febrero de 2013

Bodegas LAN (Fuenmayor - La Rioja)


Written by: Jesús Barquín / Luis Gutiérrez / Víctor de la Serna. (The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain)

LAN is simply an acronym for the three provinces included in the Rioja DOC: Logroño (today called La Rioja), Álava, and Navarra. The winery was created around 1972; it's hard to be more precise, since various dates are used the company, winery, and so on were created at different stages, and the 1974 vintage was the first to be vinified. Initially owned by a group of Basque investors, it was later sold to Rumasa, a big industrial group that ran into problems and was nationalized in 1983. The winery was owned by the government for six months until it was re-privatized and sold to businessman Marcos Eguizábal, who sold it on again after a couple of years to the original investors lead by Juan Celaya. Then was sold to the investment group Mercapital. It was finally acquired in 2012 by Sogrape, the largest wine group of Portugal.

It’s clearly been a bumpy ride. There have been ups and downs and changes in ownership, ranges, styles, and policies that make it a little difficult to get a clear idea of the company’s wines and philosophy. For many years, the idea most people had about the wines was that they were rather simple, easy to drink and produced in quantity. There was a dip in quality during the first half of the 1990s, followed by some crazy prices during the post 1994 Rioja boom. Lately, the wines seem to have improved and to have been made more consistently as the company gains ground.

The winery is located in Fuenmayor, in Rioja Alta. Their flagship vineyard is Viña Lanciano, a 72ha (178-acre) property along the River Ebro, northeast of Fuenmayor. It is planted with Tempranillo, Mazuelo, and Graciano up to 60 years of age, the source of the higher-range wines Viña Lanciano, Culmen, and LAN Edición Limitada The property has up to 24 different plots, each with distinctive features, all individually managed and hand-harvested. It also has some vineyards under contract from local growers and buys in grapes, since their own grapes barely cover their needs.

One of the distinctive features of the winen is the monumental aging cellar, which is often compared to a cathedral (though it looks more like an old train station). Constructed without columns, its 6,400-sq-m (68,900-sq-fl) floor space holds some 25,000 barrels that are stacked, handled, and racked using an elaborate crane system and the most advanced temperature-control technology.

Like most Rioja wineries, LAN has focused on red wines (and only oak-aged ones). But under since 2002, it has also acquired a winery in Rías Baixas as a source for white wines produced from Albariño, the historic Santiago Ruiz winery, one of the pioneers of Albariño in the 0 Rosal district.


LAN Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva represent the largest volume, but the following three wines are made from grapes from the Lanciano vineyard, making them their finest estate wines.

- Viña Lanciano: This is the classic-style bottling within the estate wines from LAN, made with 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo and aged in a mixture of American and French oak barrels for 24 months. Vintages of Viña Lanciano such as 1996 can still be found at more or less the same price as the current vintage, so they are well worth looking out for.

- LAN Edición Limitada: This is one of the most modern wine in the portfolio. The grapes are from El Rincón vineyard, and they are 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 5% Graciano The wine is aged for five months in new French oak barrels and another four months in new Russian oak barrels, before being bottled with neither fining nor filtration.

- Culmen: There was a shift towards more concentration and a slightly more modern profile with the creation of Culmen in the 1994 vintage. The wine was quite controversial because it was released with a huge marketing campaign and a similarly sized price tag that was hardly justified by the quality and the quantity of the wine. For subsequent vintages, the price level was reduced to a more realistic figure. This is a selection of the oldest vines, 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, from the plot called El Rincón within the company’s Viña Lanciano. It is fermented in small conical vats to maximize skin contact and colour extraction, with the malolactic taking place in new French oak barrels, before aging 18 months in new wood and another 18 months in bottle. It is only produced in select vintages.

The Culmen Reserva from 2004 is dark in colour, almost opaque, with an intense perfumed and fine nose with high quality toasty oak tones, a good structure in the mouth, correct acidity and density, and a remarkable finish.

Bodegas LAN
Area under vine: 80ha (200 acres)
Average production: 4 million bottles Paraje Buicio s/n,
26360 Fuenmayor, La Rioja Tel: +34 941 450 950 Fax: +34 941 450 567

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