2019 Bodega Lanzaga, Rioja “LZ” Red Wine, Rioja, Spain.
I’m a huge fan of all of Telmo Rodriguez’s wines, especially his family’s Remelluri Estate Rioja, but this LZ Joven bottling made from seriously old vine, organic, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano is an outrageous value with deep layers of ripe black fruits, including black cherry, plum, boysenberry, currants and Mission fig, spice, sweet florals, chalky mineral, cigar wrapper, earthy tones and tarry licorice. This wine, as noted in prior reviews, is exclusively raised in cement vats and is like Cotes du Rhone Villages in style with this vintage being an exciting and expressive year with plenty of fruit density and a fabulous mouth feel and opulent texture. 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 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 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. The dark purple/garnet hued LZ, which is usually close to 90% Tempranillo with a small amount of Garnacha and Graciano, comes from vines located north of the Ebro River on shallow, stony, limy, silty soils on flat sandstone plateau that has a cooler climate and gives plenty of natural acidity and inner energy.

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. The Bodega Lanzaga LZ, according to Telmo Rodriguez, who is very much a student and admirer of the Rioja region’s history, is a tribute to the village grape growers of the 1920’s, who fashioned fresh wines like this, which is traditionally fermented in small concrete tanks with selected Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes from, as mentioned, local organic vineyards in the village of Lanziego in Rioja Alavesa. With LZ, Rodriguez and his team want to keep alive that memory through this wine. The vines for this little red are located at an altitude of 500 to 700 meters, and set on two types of soils, both of continental origin from the tertiary era, with sandstone and marls (limestone/clay) which gives this wine its vitality, Telmo, to express the true terroir here used native yeasts and raised this LZ with just 6-7 months of aging in concrete tanks. Besides crafting his iconic Remelluri wines, he is producing a signature line of wines made in his ancient cellar from purchased grapes, usually 40 to 100 year old parcels at higher elevation within the region, which includes this LZ Rioja effort in his bargain priced Bodegas Lanzaga collection that ranges from this exceptional entry level wine to what I’d call Premier and Grand Cru bottlings. Rioja is seeing more and more unique wines, as well as the classics, and is a region that isn’t resting on its past glories, it is a great time to re-visit and explore these wines. I love this stuff, it is easy and eager to please, but has a complexity and rustic charm to keep your attention, it goes great with a variety of foods, but simple country cuisine suits it best.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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