2004 Bodegas Lan, Rioja Edición Limitada
When you pick up this bottle, you know that this is a wine that means business. Its heft alone nearly warrants a bodybuilder’s biceps. The wine itself though, while powerful, rich, and intense, carries its weight with grace and finesse. Exceptional balance keeps the abundant fruit on the nose from overpowering this impressive blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, and 5% Graciano. (Mazuelo is the Rioja name for Carignan; Graciano is a Rioja grape added for its aroma and flavor.) At $49.75, we were barely able to get enough for the club. The fact that it was number 18 on a certain magazine’s list of top 100 wines of 2007 didn’t help much towards availability. So enjoy this limited treat. It’s drinking well now, or it could be cellared for a few years. Pair it with stews, game, meat dishes in general, or cured cheeses.
2005 Domaine Bernard Gripa, Saint Péray, “Les Figuiers”
Saint Péray is a small appellation in the northern Rhône known more for, oddly enough, its sparkling wines. But the region is beginning to gain a reputation as a source of excellent, still, white wines and Bernard Gripa is recognized as one of the reasons behind this renaissance. Like all of the whites in the region, this beautifully structured wine is made from Marsanne and Roussanne, in this case from some of Gripa’s oldest vines. It is soft and creamy, full of fresh peach notes, and balanced by excellent acidity and minerality. Enjoy it now, or over the next five years, as an aperitif, or paired with grilled fish, charcuterie, or white meat dishes. It is $39.75 and we can probably get more.