María Barúa

María Barúa knew what she wanted to be from an early age. It was her wine-loving father who helped her discover her passion: “He taught me to appreciate the great classics of Rioja. Choosing the wine that we would serve alongside Sunday lunch was a highlight of the week.”

After studying chemistry and enology, Barúa took her first steps into the world of wine via the Rioja Training Grant for Researchers in Enological Chemistry. She has come to apply all her findings at LAN, where she started working in 2002. If we could sum up her work in two words, they would be scrutiny and care. Barúa believes every little detail to be important, and each decision is based on research and innovation.

In her responsibility as a winemaker, Barúa puts LAN’s founding principle into practice: Winemaking starts with viticulture, a breakthrough concept at the beginning of the 1970s, when LAN was founded. A connection to the land is inherent to the origin of the winery, named after the initials of the three provinces in DOC Rioja: Logroño, Alava and Navarra. This pioneering spirit starts at Viña Lanciano estate, a spectacular setting of 178 acres embraced by a curve of the River Ebro, where the balance of nature is respected through sustainable vine growing and where LAN estate wines are born: LAN Xtrème organic; Viña Lanciano; LAN Limited Edition; and Culmen, the culmination of LAN know-how. Culmen grapes are sourced from 60-year-old vines in Pago El Rincón, a slightly sloping plot at the south of the estate.

A staunch believer that the character of every single plot must be reflected in the wines, Barúa looks for a tailormade aging process, creating small pyramids of barrels according to origin. The balance between fruit and oak is essential. LAN’s unique cellar room holds a wide range of highest-quality oak, including pioneer hybrid barrels which for more than two decades have been used for the aging of the flagship LAN Crianza and LAN Reserva. Barúa has followed a new pathway in her commitment to innovation, rediscovering the Spanish oak that had been forgotten.

Barúa’s work has been recognized with several appearances on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list, such as LAN Limited Edition 2003 and 2004, LAN Crianza and LAN Reserva, which culminated with the 96 points achieved last year with Culmen Reserva 2015.

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