2011 Bodegas Lan, Rioja Reserve, Culmen, $70
Winery info: Founded in 1972 in Spain’s northern Rioja region. Their name is based on the first letters of the three provinces that form Rioja: Logroño (now part of La Rioja), Alava, and Navarra. Lan produces some of the top wines in the region as well as excellent and consistent value wines, all made by winemaker María Barúa. Their premium wine, Culmen, is produced only in outstanding vintages.
Grapes: Typically about 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, aged 24 months in new French oak, followed by 20 months of cellaring in the bottle.
Vineyard: Sourced from the “Pago El Rincón” plot in their 72-hectare, sustainably farmed Viña Lanciano vineyard. The vines range in age from 40 to 60 years and grow on poor, stony soil. The vineyard is encircled by a meander of the Ebro River and is naturally protected by the Sierra Cantabria Mountains. The combination of climate, soil type, and viticulture practices produces grapes of great character.
Flavor Profile: Elegant and layered, with stunning depth and great structure and power. It has rich flavors of ripe red fruit, notes of earthy minerality, and hints of balsamic and spice, all characteristic of their Viña Lanciano terroir.
Availability: There are just a few cases left of this vintage.
Drinkability: Give it a year or two, then enjoy anytime up to 2023 or so.
Food Pairing: The winery suggests roasted meats, or with blue and cured cheeses.
2017 Monte Tondo, Heart Collection Garganega, $29.75
Winery info: Monte Tondo has been producing wine for three generations in the northern Italian hills of Soave, not far from Verona. The folks at Small Vineyards, who import their wines, think that winemakers Gino Magnabosco and his daughter Marta are making some of the most exciting and vibrant wines in all of the Veneto. Their “Heart Collection” is produced in hand-made bottles, with special tissue paper labels.
Grapes: 100% Garganega. Barrel fermented.
Vineyard: Grown on volcanic soil in their vineyards in and around Soave.
Flavor Profile: This wine is lean and powerful, with loads of flinty minerality and flavors of white flowers and citrus.
Availability: This is a direct import wine through Small Vineyards so little is available beyond what we preordered in the spring.
Drinkability: Ready to drink now, or over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Niçoise Salad, crab legs, shrimp-stuffed avocado, or fritto misto (deep-fried seafood).