LAN is a winery estate in Rioja, the finest appellation in Spain. The name is an acronym standing for the three provinces of Rioja: Logrono, Alava, and Navarra. John Perry Calaff is the Export Manager for LAN and has graced our premises twice in recent years affording us a taste of their four wines offered here in the Atlanta marketplace.
Interestingly enough, the vintages for these labels has not changed so what we have is two snapshots of the evolution of four wines in the bottle and the results were telling. A year ago the Reserva was the version I was touting as the one to buy. I was actually telling customers it may be the best twenty dollar red in the store. High praise indeed. Now I'm not so sure. It wasn't so much that that one didn't show well. It was fine. But the fifteen dollar Crianza just way overperformed at that price point eclipsing the Reserva in value. What a wonderful soft red dinner wine it is!
The other head turner on the table was the 2011 LAN Edicion Limitada which just happened to be a top 100 Wine Spectator selection. While the Crianza showed all it had right out of the chute, this one was a hard cover novel with alluring artwork that opened up into an entrancing read. You just couldn't put it down! Every once in a while the Spectator gets it right.
Tempranillo is the great red grape of Spain and just like the Spectator that country got it right with that selection. Around the world wherever it's planted Tempranillo is ordinary at best but in Spain it's delightful. Most Lan reds are minimally 85% Tempranillo and Mr. Calaff informed us that food affinities for these kinds of wines included seafood in tomato and garlic sauce, lamb chops, cured cheeses, and tapas.
Calaff also gave a little seminar on the usage of oak in wine barrels. The reds, other than the Limited Edition used French and American oak for aging with the French imparting dark spices including clove, black pepper, and cedar while the American imparted sweet tannins, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, and nutmeg. He went on to say these woods were more porous than others allowing the wine to aerate during aging.
The Limited Edition on the other hand was put into Russian oak after initially seeing seven months in new French oak and that wood comes from a colder climate making the grain tighter and less porous cutting off any air that may create a softer wine. This one is for putting away, folks! Then for additional complexity a twenty percent blend of Graciano and Mazuelo is blended into the eighty percent Tempranillo.
Please join us next Thursday the 21st at 5pm when Cheri Rubio presents a tasting of Napa Valley reds and whites. Our tasting selection includes examples from Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling, Provenance, and Acacia. Maybe we'll learn about oak barrels there too!