Sadly, it was the last day in Rioja. Just one visit: LAN.
I’d really enjoyed the previous two days, but up till now we hadn’t been shown a single vineyard. This is despite the fact that Rioja’s treasures are its wonderful vineyards, and the weather was perfect for photography. It’s probably because this is a very winery focused region, and most of the wineries, which tend to be large, are distant from the vineyards, which are tended by growers, who then sell their grapes to the big wineries. In Rioja, the stars are the enologists. They want to show us their wineries.
It’s quite a large region, but there’s very little impact here from organics or even sustainable wine growing. All the vineyards seem to be clean cultivated.
Anyway, today, we finally got to visit a vineyard, but it took quite a bit of asking and arranging. Fortunately, LAN have a lovely vineyard – Lanciano. It’s the second largest in the region, with 72 hectares, and its surrounded on three sides by the river Ebro.
They also have an enormous barrel hall, with a capacity of over 60 000 barrels, although there are only 30 000 in there at the moment. They were stacked 9 high (they can go as high as 14), and are moved around by a robotic crane on tracks. It was really quite impressive. Their barrels are a mix: American oak with French oak ends, French, and Russian. And although their winery looks like a factory, and they make 2 million bottles of Crianza, the wines are really good. The high end wines are really striking, made in relatively small quantities (10-20 000 bottles).