A Classic Wins Again: A Review of Lan Crianza 2006

lanIf you wanted to name the classic wine regions of the world — the ones who’ve been producing great wines for centuries or more — you’d have a relatively small “short list.”¬† It would include Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhine River Valley, Chianti, and Rioja. And arguably a few more.

But the one I want to talk about today is Rioja. Wine has been produced for over a thousand years in this beautiful region along the banks of Spain’s Ebro River. Its great reds are made from a grape called Tempranillo, and have been respected for centuries for their longevity and Old World elegance. They are only medium-bodied: the joy of tasting a Rioja isn’t in the blockbuster palate, but in the soft cherry fruit, vanilla oak, and balanced acid on the finish.

For me, the acid’s the thing: it’s what makes Spanish reds such a treat when you put them with food. I just drank Bodegas Lan Crianza 2006 with a supper I threw together from what happened to be in my kitchen¬† — Italian Sausage Tortellini, leftover Spicy Marinara Sauce and Wilted Spinach. It was a knock-out impromptu meal, but it got even better when I uncorked the Lan Crianza. The nose, first of all, was warm and rustic, with lots of jammy berry, mocha and vanilla. The palate gave me the bright cherry fruit and a hint of tobacco, and with every bite of my Tortellini, the crisp acid jumped in at the end. That lovely “bite” kept my palate jumping, and made the (acidic) red sauce taste even better. And take note — the half bottle that I didn’t finish with my meal tasted even better the next day.

Bodgeas Lan is relatively young for a Rioja winery. Even though some of their vineyards are more than 60 years old, the winery’s only been around for about 40. But they’ve earned a great reputation in that time. Their single-vineyard and reserve reds, such as Colmen and Edicion Limitada, have won 90+ ratings many, many times, as well as a few “Top 100″ rankings. The amazing thing about their Crianza, which is their entry level red aged only a few years before release, is its humble price. You can get this thing for not much more than $15! That’s a little bit of money for a lot of quality.

I suggest you find a bottle of Lan, any Lan, and cook up Spanish or Mediterranean meal. You’ll love every minute of your traditional wine and food experience. Cheers!

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