Founded in 1972, Bodegas LAN lies in the heart of Rioja Alta. The name LAN comes from the initials of the three provinces of the Rioja Designation of Origin: Logrono, Alava and Navarra. Maria Barua has been the head winemaker and technical director since 2002, and brings both scientific expertise (with an academic background in chemistry in addition to her oenology degree) and local knowledge (having been born and raised in Rioja). Together with her young and energetic team, Maria focuses on using the latest advances in winemaking to ‘express the virtues of the land’. The estate farms its Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano and Garnacha vineyards sustainably. The Vina Lanciano vineyard is one of the most spectacular vineyards in the region, located on a bend of the River Ebro. The vineyard’s poor, stony soils and the average vine age of 60 years are both conducive to low yields. The vines are divided into 24 plots of different soils, grape varieties and aspects so that each can be hand-picked at perfect ripeness. In the winery, there is a rigorous selection process to ensure that only perfect bunches are used. Bodegas LAN also painstakingly select and test their oak barrels and have even pioneered a hybrid barrel - American staves with French oak heads - which they feel imparts the best characteristics of both types of oak on a wine. The ‘A Mano Edición Limitada’ is sourced solely from 35 to 40-year-old vines planted in a single plot within the Vina Lanciano vineyard called ‘El Rincon’. Aged for seven months in new French oak barriques, the wine spends a further six months in new Russian oak barrels to give it a subtle spiciness. The ‘Culmen’ (meaning ‘epitome’) is made from Bodegas LAN’s finest grapes, sourced from 45 to 60-year-old vines grown in ‘El Rincón’. This hugely concentrated wine is aged for 24 months in new French oak barrels, followed by a further 20 months in bottle. Powerful yet fleshy, it shows ripe red fruits and blackberries, with hints of balsamic, woodsmoke and spice. A new addition to our list this year is LAN’s ‘Xtreme Ecológico’, which is a 100% Tempranillo, sourced from a small organically farmed five-hectare plot within the Vina Lanciano vineyard. Fermentation with native yeasts, is followed by 14 months ageing in new French oak. The wine boasts aromas of cranberries, ripe red cherries, prune and apricots, married perfectly with spicy notes of cinnamon, vanilla and cedar from the oak.