You deserve this - it is an organic wine made form a single plot of grapes within a single vineyard in one of Rioja's most-celebrated regions, from one of it's most-celebrated modern wineries.
It's extreme in a number of ways: its vineyard make-up; its creation, as they call it Crianza, when they age it like a Reserva; its flavours, which are dense and spicy, beautifully integrated and complex; and its value - this is an organic swathe cut from a wine that sells for €12 more! Incredible, even extreme, value for money.
It's a jet-black wine with aromas of blueberry, strawberry, black cherry and a glorious mixed bag of cinnamon and black pepper spices. The palate is broad and full but balanced - you really get a sense that the colour, flavour and natural acidity of the organic grapes plays a key role in the creation of what is a really special wine.
The Lanciano Vineyard is like an enclave in the Ebro river. There are a few places where the river does this meandering through the top two of Rioja's districts and at each point something great happens - chiefly it's the soils and that's very much the case here (just as it is further along the river at Contino). The soil is full of huge great flat stones that are text-book taken from Chateauneuf-du-Pape (of course they aren't actually taken, but you get the picture). Their effect is to have good drainage and poor nutrition, forcing the vines to burrow deep into the soil, and to provide warmth to the air around them as they release the day's heat like flat stony radiators through the night. This prevents frost damage during spring and maintains warmth through the night,
The Lanciano vineyard is actually quite big, at 72 hectares. It is divided into 22 parcels, the 5-hectare Mantible Ecológico being one. This set of vines is at an altitude within the Lanciano site, of 400 metres above sea level and is set on a gentle slope that runs from east to west. It is the most perfect spot to try organic farming and one feels sure that there will be more single-plot wines to come, given the success and quality that this one has already reached.
The 'Mantible' plot takes its name from the ruin of the vast Roman bridge - the bridge of Mantible. They reckon it's one of the last remnants of when the Romans were in Rioja and its features must have been extraordinary - they believe that it would have stretched 170 metres in length across the (then more-flowing) Ebro river, carrying trade from Madrid to the sea at Bilbao via Logroño, Rioja's main town. It was 30 metres high! And of courses there's a legend, but not fairy-tale stuff, which is that Charlemagne crossed it, which is entirely possible as he was Emperor of Spain and presumably needed to get to Madrid at some stage (and could have been thirsty along the way...). It is at the north of the vineyard and is about four miles from the city of Logroño. The point about the bridge is that it is on the property of LAN and it sits IN the Lanciano Vineyard, which is pretty cool, and it is now a national monument and subject to myriad international historical studies. Until very recently, two arches of the original seven remain and it is these that are the focal point of the illustration on the label of this hugely important wine. Sadly, one fell and is the subject of intense work to be reconstructed, but alas, these things do take a lot of bureaucratic time.
It is aged for 15 months in new French oak barrels where the wine settles with no further fining or filtration before bottling. It's released ready to go, but with serious ageing potential to boot.
The winery is a relatively young one: established in 1972, they have not quite rewritten the rules, but they have certainly done things in their own way. The winery is just outside the town of Fuenmayor - in wine terms right on the border with Rioja Alavesa - in political terms right on the border with the Basque country. The Lanciano vineyard sits between the winery and the town of Logroño.
The wines have been made by María Barúa since 2002 and her specific expertise in oak use has led to these developments that allow for myriad flavours of the grapes themselves to be experienced, rather than just the flavour of oak. Funny in this day of oak use being abandoned across the board, her argument is that there is no need to reduce or do away with barriques at all, because there will always be a place for them, so long as the right barrels are used with the right wines. And oak in Organic wines has a very interesting rule - you cannot use barrels for organic wines that have been used in non-organic wine making. In effect, this ensures that LAN only use new oak barrels for this wine, by dint of law.
Style: Vibrant, Structured, Smooth, Rich, Organic, Full, Fruity, Elegant, Dark, Creamy, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Wild Boar, Venison, Veal, Tapas, Steak, St Stephen's Day, Soft Cheeses, Roasts, Ribs, Red Meats, Poultry, Pork, Pizza, Pasta, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Game, Duck, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Casseroles, Beef, Barbecue