Inside Stories

Grapfeully Yours: El Coto de Rioja Wines Beat the Heat at Bargain Prices

El Coto de Rioja wines were featured on the Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast recently by co-host Mike Pigeon (aka The Wine Butler, left), and Jim Campanini.

The heat is on for chilled wines – pink, white and red.

And I’ve got a cool, triple-play favorite from a top Spanish producer to keep your palate fresh and lubricated as the summer reaches its sizzling peak.

El Coto de Rioja excels in crafting wines from eight separate vineyards that spread out around the city of Oyun. That’s where El Coto’s Los Almendros vineyard, the largest in Rioja, is located.

While the Rioja region is famous for its red wines – made mostly from the native Tempranillo grape –  White Rioja wines have grown steadily in popularity with consumers in the 21st century.

And winemakers have responded to the thirst for white varietals, adding vineyard plantings to an advantageous terroir of elevated, sun-exposed elevations, hot temperatures and clay and limestone soils. Native grapes lie Viura and Verdejo have excelled under the ideal conditions.

El Coto, founded in the 1970s, has evolved over the decades from an all-red Rioja house to a multi-dimensional wine producer practicing sustainable farming methods. In fact, since 2010 El Coto has built two separate wineries and planted vineyards dedicated solely to producing white grapes.

On the July 29 edition of Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast, co-host Mike Pigeon and I sampled three El Coto wines: Blanco (white), Rosado (rose`) and Crianza (red). The tasting showed the ability of this winery to make quality, affordable wines across the board.

Click on the link to watch the 25-minute video:

For those looking for something new and reasonably priced, each screwtop bottle of El Coto wines is on sale in New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets throughout the month of August. (Buying all three costs a total of $35 as compared to the suggested retail price of $46.)

Here’s a summary on each wine tasted.

El Coto Blanco 2022, SRP: $13.99, abv. 12.5% abv. – Blanco is produced at the Finca Carbonera vineyard which features its own white-only production facility.

Estate-grown Viura (93%) grapes make up the dominate portion of this three-grape blend. Sauvignon Blanc (4%) and Verdejo (3%) fill out the mix.

According to the winemaker, Blanco is fermented and aged at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks to keep its citrusy flavors fresh and zesty.

In my view, El Coto Blanco lives up to its calling.

The straw-colored wine’s appeal begins with white flower and grapefruit aromatics, followed by a smooth transition to the palate where a light and refreshing beverage offers the relief of a cool summer wind. A touch of grapefruit mixes with tangerine and lemon to create a satisfying summer sipper.

Approximately 3 million bottles are produced annually.

El Coto Blanco is now on sale in New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets for $11.99 – a $2 a bottle savings.

El Coto Rosado 2021, SRP: $14.99, abv. 13.5% – While the trend in rose` wines is to

become paler in color, El Coto Rosado is a delight to see for its dark salmon shade.

To me, this signals a rose` that is proud of its red-grape progeny. In this case, it’s a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Garnacha/Grenache (10%).

According to the winemaker’s notes, El Coto Rosado’s color results from mixing the free-run juice of the initial pressing of grapes with that of a second pressing of macerated grapes left behind. The process increases extract and structure.

Tempranillo is one of my favorite Spanish grapes, full of red fruit character and peppery spice. Add in a measure of Garnacha and this bright, crisp rosado swirls with strawberry aromas and flavors.

El Coto Rosado is produced at Los Almendros from estate-grown grapes. Nearly 1 million bottles are produced annually.

This is a bargain buy right now in N.H., where it’s selling for $7.99 a bottle – a 50 percent discount from the suggested retail price.

El Coto Crianza Rioja, SRP: $16.99, abv. 14.5% – El Coto winery has built a solid reputation for producing elegant and robust reds, and this seemingly entry-level Rioja is no exception. For the price (it’s on sale in N.H. for $14.99), El Coto Crianza is an outstanding buy for its overall top quality.

Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, El Coto is aged for a minimum two years in a combination of oak barrels and bottle – the standard aging requirement under Spanish law for a Rioja to be designated “crianza” (Longer aging rules apply to Reserva and Gran Reserva wines).

The result is a velvety soft wine that massages the palate from sip to swallow. Rich flavors of  raspberry, strawberry and cherry intermingle with licorice and peppery notes to create a dry, savory finish.

Crianza wines offer a long cellar life, but El Coto is fresh now and firing on all cylinders, so why wait for the experience?

I put a slight chill on it (15 minutes in the fridge) and it proved exceptional with a dinner of steak tips, roasted peppers, baked potato and garden salad.

El Coto Crianza Rioja’s annual production is 4.65 million bottles, so it should be easy to find.

Right now, it’s a great value at $14.99 – $2 below SRP – in N.H.

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