2019 Bodega Lanzaga, Lanzaga, Rioja DO, Spain.
The dark purple/garnet and full bodied 2019 Lanzaga, made by Telmo Rodriguez, is a gorgeous spicy and deeply floral, almost Hermitage like wine far removed from the normal expression of Rioja, it comes from local organic vineyards in the village of Lanziego in Rioja Alavesa, which is located north of the Ebro River. These unique parcels of old bush vine Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha, including Atalaya, Majadales, Arroyo la Losa, Pasocastillo and Soto are set on shallow, stony, limy, silty soils on flat sandstone plateau that has a cooler climate and gives plenty of natural acidity and inner energy. This fantastic and very serious Rioja really highlights Telmo’s vision for his Rioja, making it his own with a wine that doesn’t follow a single varietal character, but excels as a whole and complete wine that never fails to intrigue and please the palate, as this beauty does. The main core of dark fruit is peppery with black currant, plum, cherry and blueberry, all accented and supported by firm, but polished tannins, graphite, earthy Umami, sandalwood and anise. Telmo Rodríguez and his partner and friend Pablo Eguzkiza set up Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez in 1994 to explore Spain true potential and push its wines to the next level and In 1998 they started to buy old vineyard sites around the town of Lanciego and this was the catalyst for Bodega Lanzaga label. For this wine Rodriguez used 100% natural indigenous yeasts and a lengthy cool maceration period, extracting serious depth and concentration, while retaining elegant aromatics. After primary fermentation, which is done in small separate lots in a combination of vats and tanks, the wine is rack to a mx of what Telmo says are French fudres of 1500-2500 liters and some 225L small barrels to achieve his desired transparency and profile of flavors, with some new wood used when needed, depending on the vintage. This 2019 is just starting to reach its full potential, but still has a hugely rewarding life ahead on it, I would recommend drinking a few now and soon, but also put a bottle of two away for another 5 to 7 years, at this price I am definitely buying more for personal use.

One of Spain’s best winemakers, Telmo Rodriguez, who In 1998, returned to Rioja, after making wine in the Rhone at Jean-Louis Chave, and Bordeaux, more experienced and loaded with enthusiasm, wanting to explore a new era of Rioja wine. Besides crafting his family’s famous Remelluri estate, he is producing a signature line of wines made in his ancient cellar from purchased grapes within the region, which includes his Bodegas Lanzaga lineup, made from all organic vines. Telmo’s entry level bodegas Lanzaga bottling, which is the unoaked LZ , made as a Joven, is produced with a blend of old vine sites of head-pruned Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano in the Alavesa zone, and from the village of Lanciego. It is a star value offering with a Cotes-du-Rhone like feel, and though it’s a pure Rioja, but one with Telmo’s unique personality and charm showing through. Rodriguez is one of Spain’s leading lights and one of the world’s most influential winemakers, he was one of the only Spanish winemakers ever to lead a Bordeaux cellar and was, aa mentioned, mentored by the legendary Jean-Louis Chave in Hermitage, where he gained insight that has shaped his own wines, in particular his fantastic Remelluri Rioja Blanco, which is one of the greatest white wines I’ve ever tried. Telmo, who I met first in 2012, is coy about his use of different varietals and percentage, he smiles as talks about it, but refuses to give exact details, which I have personally experienced when I’ve quizzed him! He believes it is more important to understand the place rather than the grapes used in the blend and he adds that the winemaking is to express terroir and honor the area’s history. Bodegas Lanzaga collection that ranges from their exceptional entry level LZ to what I’d call their Premier and Grand Cru bottlings, like this signature Lanzaga masterpiece. Rioja is seeing more and more unique wines, there’s a new wave of talent, some inspired by Telmo, that are crafting some exceptional and exciting wines, as well as the classics that are seeing a modern revival, and Rioja is a region that isn’t resting on its past glories, it is a great time to re-visit and explore these wines.
($46 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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