It was a beautiful day in New York City. The sun was shining, which was a rarity this Spring, as I listened to one of my favorite podcasts and walked down Grand Street on my way to Tomiño Taberna Gallega. The intimate restaurant is a little slice of Galicia in the heart of New York.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, I was greeted by the Gregory + Vine team, the restaurant owner and was handed a glass of Sparkling wine. A better welcome could not have been asked for. I was there to hear about, and taste, the passion of LAN’s winemaker María Barúa.
Bodegas LAN was founded in 1972. Priding itself in the region and the culture where it is found, it chose its name by creating an acronym for each of the three provinces of the Rioja DOCa; Logroño, Alava and Navarra. The winery’s 150 acres is dedicated to producing wine that exhibits a respect for not only its history, but more importantly the land itself.
With a strong commitment to respecting the earth and maintaining a natural balance, LAN meticulously maintains its three vineyard sites.
Viña Lanciano vineyard lies on a breathtaking natural meander, shaped for thousands of years by the swells and low water periods of the river Ebro. In this fight for survival, vines sink their roots deep into the bedrock in search of nutrients -it is this vital effort that confers our wines their personality and singularity. The unique situation of Viña Lanciano, protected by the Sierra Cantabria mountains, creates a microclimate in these 72 hectares, which are some of the most sought-after location in Rioja Alta. The estate follows sustainable viticulture practices.
The Mantible Bridge, built in Roman times, can be seen from our estate.
Legend has it that Charlemagne passed through the area on his way to rescue his most illustrious knights -known as The Twelve Peers- who had been kidnapped by the Saracens. Its colossal dimensions must have been impressive at the time: 164m long, 5m wide and composed with seven semicircular arches.
Viña Lanciano is divided into 24 plots, our Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Garnacha vines, aged on average up to 60 years, enjoy a unique climate and terroir. The Ebro river acts as a natural frontier between Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Completely surrounded by a meander of the river in a region where small plots are standard, Viña Lanciano’s 72 hectares give us a real advantage to source our premium wines: Viña Lanciano, LAN A Mano and Culmen.
Understanding that the secret to producing quality wine is held within the grape itself, LAN fastidiously pays attention to every aspect of the the winemaking process. Every tank is individually managed. Only the best cooperage is used to age the wines providing their unique fingerprint to each wine. A combination of French, American, Russian and hybrid barrels (American staves and French oak heads built in the same barrel) are chosen to age the wine.
“LAN D-12, our most singular red, from tank number 12 Tank 12 is a special location — it contains the favorite wine of those who make our wines. 98% Tempranillo and 2% Mazuelo selected by hand from two plots in the town of Haro (Rioja Alta) and two plots in Laguardia (Rioja Alavesa). D-12 is homage to the workers of LAN.”
100% Tempranillo. Harvested from a 2.5 hectare parcel on the El Cortijo vineyard which is 28+ years old as well as a 5.5 hectare parcel of the 20+ year vines on the Haro Vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel. Micro-oxygenation and maceration in contact with the lees prior to malolactic fermentation. Twelve months in new American and French oak barrels followed by twelve months in the bottle.
medium purple, ruby rim. on the nose: dark fruit, bramble, herbs, and floral notes on the palate: black cherry, spice, licorice. medium body, medium tannin, medium acidity and medium finish. LAN pairing suggestions: grilled pork, smoked and barbecued meats, grilled vegetables, casseroles
100% Tempranillo. This vintage was harvested from a 2.5 hectare parcel on the El Cortijo vineyard and from 30+ year old vines on the San Vicente de la Sonsierra vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Micro-oxygenation and maceration in contact with the lees prior to malolactic fermentation. Twelve months in new American and French oak barrels followed by twelve months in the bottle.
deep purple, lighter rim. on the nose: chocolate, mint, floral notes on the palate: red fruit, pepper. medium body, medium (+) tannin, medium acidity and medium (-) finish. LAN pairing suggestions: grilled pork, smoked and barbecued meats, grilled vegetables, casseroles
2011 Vina Lanciano Reserva
87% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. Hand harvested from 30+ year old vines on the Viña Lanciano vineyard. Fermented in small stainless steel tanks, daily pump-overs with extensive maceration. Aged 18 months in oak (12 months in French oak and and 6 months in Russian oak) followed by 18 months in bottle.
deep garnet. on the nose: eucalyptus, black currant, clove. on the palate: minerality, blackberry. silky tannins, medium body, high acidity and long finish. LAN pairing suggestions: stews, smoked and spicy dishes, meat carpaccios and mature cheeses.
2012 Vina Lanciano Reserva
90% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano, 2% Mazuelo. Hand harvested from 30+ year old vines on the Viña Lanciano vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel with long maceration and daily pump overs. French oak barriques were used to allow for malolactic fermentation. Aged in barrel for 22 months. (14 months in French oak, 8 months in Russian oak) and an additional year in bottle prior to release.
deep garnet. on the nose: cherry, plum. on the palate: minerality, plum, violet. medium body, medium (+) tannin, medium (+) acidity, long finish. LAN pairing suggestions: stews, smoked and spicy dishes, meat carpaccios and mature cheeses.
2014 LAN Xtreme
100% Tempranillo with organic certification. Hand harvested from a 5-hectare plot on the Viña Lanciano vineyard. Fermented in a semi-truncated cone shaped tank with continuous pump overs. Aged for 14 months in new French oak barrels. *not yet released to the American Market.
Organically produced using native yeast. medium garnet. on the nose: red fruit, anise. on the palate: fruit forward, red fruit, vanilla, coffee. medium (-) body, medium (+) tannin, medium (+) acidity, medium (+) finish. LAN suggested food pairings: red meat, smoked fish and soft cheeses.
It was a pleasure to meet María Barúa on her first trip to the United States. The sit down began with Trinidad Villegas, the export manager for the American market, providing us with a brief bio of María. As the food began to be brought out family style and the wines were poured, María shared her story as well as the behind the scenes of the winemaking process at Bodegas LAN.
María’s passion for wine was handed down from her wine loving father. He instilled a love of wine in her at a young age. In her words, “He taught me to appreciate the great classics of Rioja. Choosing the wine that we would serve alongside Sunday lunch was a highlight of the week.” His passion for wine was passed down to her and she demonstrates that devotion in every bottle she produces.
After her formal education in Chemistry and Enology, María was awarded a grant from the Rioja Government to study the effect of various oak barrel aging on the effect of red wine color. Her hands on experience began in 1998 when she was hired as an assistant winemaker in Rioja. During her conversation, she reminisced that in this job, she learned how to think on the fly and admitted that although stressful, it was exciting. She began working at LAN in 2002 and was promoted to Technical Director in 2007. She credits the results of her research as an essential aid in her winemaking process.
‘Scrutiny and care‘ are the words that best describe how María approaches the process. Beginning with viticulture, she spends an inordinate amount of time in the vineyards, checking every parcel to ensure the proper time to harvest. The wines are aged separately and continuously tested with different oaks, in order to develop into the highest quality wines that demonstrate the terroir they arose from.
There was more food to be served and wine to be poured. Throughout it all, María’s passion was indubitable, not only expressed in her words, but on our palates as we enjoyed the wines in the glass. The hands on the clock moved swiftly, as it often does when you are enjoying yourself. Sadly, it was time to say our goodbyes. I returned my earbuds to my ears, turned on the next podcast and began my walk back to the ferry. As I enjoyed the sun’s rays on my skin, with the memory of the wines still on my palate, I was extremely thankful for this opportunity.
Want to learn more? Get some amazing food Pairings? Read my collegues posts and join in the #WinePW chat this Saturday at 11am ET.
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Vegan BBQ: 3 Ideas to Pair with Crianza Rioja“.
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares “A Father’s Passion is Passed Down to Daughter and Expressed in Bottle“
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Grilled Paprika Pork Chops with a Rioja”
- Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Grilled Sausage Feast Paired with Rioja Crianza“
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish shares “Paella and Bodegas LAN: Perfect for Your Summer BBQ“
- Jill at L’Occasion shares “On the Grill with Rioja Wine“
- Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares “Oven Roasted Italian Sausage with Rioja Riserva“
- Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog shares “Grilled Garam Masala Lamb Chops paired with Bodega LAN Reserva“
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Keep your cool with grilled steak salad and Rioja“
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Robatayaki and Rioja Wines, the Perfect Summertime Party“
- Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings shares “Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza and Thick-Cut Sirloin Steak on the Grill“
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Our Favorite BBQ Ribs with LAN Rioja“
- Gwen at Wine Predator shares “An American Summer BBQ with Spanish Rioja Wine: LAN Crianza and Beronia Rosado“
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares “Cooking to the Wine: Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva with Smoky Seared Octopus”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Bodegas LAN Rioja with Canjun Butter Steak”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Smoking Low & Slow with Rioja Wines“
Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also find me on YouTube and if you are interested in wine pairings, follow my other blog, Wine Pairing with Dracaena Wines. And don’t forget about my FREE wine education series, Winephabet Street. Sláinte!
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What an interesting article. I would have loved to have been at that wine tasting seminar.
it was a wonderful day. Hearing Maria’s passion as she spoke was exhilarating. The entire lineup is fantastic.
You found a photo of the Mantible Bridge! Great post – just wish we had attended the same lunch – would’ve been fun. Let’s make plans to eat at this place once we’re both back in NYC. Cheers Lori!
Absolutely! Will love to meet up with you again! Always have a great time!!
What a great opportunity to meet with the winemaker while tasting the wines. Almost as good as a visit to the vineyard and winery (and the winemaker, of course)!
It really was Jeff. It was a wonderful experience. But oh, you are right, it would have been even better in her vineyards!
What a great experience! Sounds like the event was a great way to learn about how the winemakers passion and skills evolved.
Thanks David. yes. hearing it from the winemaker’s mouth is always the best way!!!