Wines of the Week features Rioja

Brian Freedman Contributor to Forbes Dining covers wine, spirits, travel, and food, and consults on wine.

“My red Wine of the Week, the Bodegas LAN “Culmen” Rioja Reserva 2011, is the result of sustainable viticulture with no use of chemical herbicides, indigenous plants between their rows of grapevines (an increasingly popular practice, which not only has environmental benefits but viticultural ones, too, helping with nitrogen balance in the soil and attracting beneficial insects and animals), and more.”

Culmen Reserva 2011 Rioja

Bodegas LAN only releases their “Culmen” Rioja Reserva in the best vintages. COURTESY OF BODEGAS LAN

Bodegas LAN produces a wide range of wine in Rioja, and this one represents the top of their quality pyramid, a tiny-production gem that’s only made in the best vintages and from vines as old as 60 years. It’s a blend of 88% Tempranillo and 12% Graciano, was aged for 26 months in French oak, and held back for a further 20 months in the bottle before being released. It was worth the wait, and showcases amazing concentration and richness, with brambly berries, blackberries, chocolate, espresso, and a touch of dill, and a palate of great consistency that takes a solid half hour to open up. When it does, it’s fantastic, with a velvety texture and crunchy tannins carrying flavors of dill-crusted lamb and smoky notes alongside blackberries, sweet spice, and a hint of floral peppercorn, and espresso oils.”