Thursday, July 16, 2009
There seems to be a changing of the guard in the wine world. In the 70's there was only one main wine region on Earth, France of course. This continued well into the 80's. And with the 1982 Bordeaux First Growths is it any wonder why France stayed on top for so long? In the late 90's California ruled the vines with such names as Harlan and Screaming Eagle commanding huge amounts of attention and a price to match. And then with the 2000 Bordeaux vintage, the tide turned again and France once again took over the top spot, if not in volume, than on quality and auction prices.
Now, there are 10-15 wine regions on Earth which are all volleying back and forth, no one is a clear winner these days. Some argue that France is still the greatest, some say Argentina is coming up and produces the best value, some like those huge Aussie wines and California is still a major player. In fact, California has some of the best boutique wines I have ever tasted. Wines like Buoncristiani's OPC and Lodi Vineyards' Petite Petit are always on my shopping list.
There is, however, a region which has been producing great wines for as long, if not longer than all the other major players. That is the Rioja region in Spain. The Spanish wine scene in the US is still quite small when compared to France, California, Washington and Australia. But it is gaining a great deal of attention. One of the reasons it's gaining so much attention is that it's producing profound wines, like the 2004 Bodegas LAN Special Edition.
Right off the bat, this wine is impressive. It has a huge, heavy bottle, with the name Bodegas LAN protruding from bottom. It is a very dark wine, almost creosote and boasts giant tannins, which stick to the decanter and then slide down gracefully. This is different for Spain, it is definitely a New World wine. But it's still very complex. The nose is huge. There is a gorgeous mineral complexity on the nose, which I really liked. It's not timid, there is an instant rush of cassis and herbs on the nose. It shows a lot of blueberries and blackberries on the palate. It also has a simple cherry component on the midpalate. Very nice. The finish is long and demands another sip.
Wine Spectator rated it 96 points. I think this is a little high for this wine, but it is very close. I'd rate it 94 points. If I rated wine, which I don't. It was also featured in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2007. It scored higher than any other Spanish Wine on the list. Very respectable. All in all, I think the 2004 Bodegas LAN Special Edition deserves the praise it has been getting. It's a fabulous testament to the new style of Spanish wines, big, bold and beautiful. I look forward to trying their Culmen Reserva, which I have a bottle of in the cellar. If it's anything like the Special Edition, I'm in for a treat.
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