From: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, Spain
Taste & Critical Acclaim: Warm notes of cedar, spice, tobacco, and worn leather meld seamlessly with penetrating aromas of dark fruits and pipe tobacco. On the palate, those dark fruits reveal layers of fresh blackberry, dark cherry compote, soft plums, cloves, and leather framed by soft tannins and hints of vanilla, baking spices, and coffee that lead into a lingering, warm finish.
“Savory on the nose, with notes of forest floor, smoke and dried dill transitioning on the palate to accent juicy flavors of dried black cherry and black raspberry fruit, medicinal herbs and mandarin orange peel. Fresh and medium to full-bodied, turning firm and chewy on the iron and spice-laced finish.” —Wine Spectator, 91 points
Pairing: Aside from being a great companion for warm pizza on a cold night, this will pair beautifully with beef braises, roasted game (duck breast anyone?), charcuterie, cheese, and even strongly-flavored rice dishes. We’re basing this recipe on a recommendation we saw on El Coto’s website to pair this Rioja with the meat croquettes often found in tapas bars in the area.
Croquetas de Jamón (Spanish Ham Croquettes) by Lisa & Tony Sierra
About. The El Coto winery was founded in 1970 in Oyón, one of Rioja’s historic cities located in Rioja Alavesa. It has grown from humble beginnings into one of the best-known Rioja producers and the largest vineyard owner in Rioja. The key to their success has been their continued investment in improving the quality of their wines.
El Coto cultivates 800 hectares of vineyard area on eight individual properties located throughout the region’s three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja (Rioja Oriental), and Rioja Alavesa. In the last decade or so, the winery invested in a new property at 900 meters above sea level, Finca Carbonera, ideal for the production of their white wines from varieties recently authorized by the Rioja Wine Board (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Verdejo).
Head winemaker César Fernández oversees production, starting with hand-picking into 350-kilogram crates to ensure the grapes arrive at the winery in pristine condition. Modern and intelligently designed, the emphasis in the winery is on temperature control and gentle handling of the grapes. El Coto’s stand-out reds (like this one) hail primarily from their estate at Cenicero in the heart of Rioja Alta. Here there is an increased focus on sustainability, both in the vineyard and the winery, including the use of cover crops and integrated pest management. They’re also in the process of converting 38 hectares of the Los Almendros vineyard (the largest single-estate of DOCa Rioja) to organic viticulture.
The ‘Coto de Imaz’ Rioja Reserva is made from a selection of the best Tempranillo grapes from El Coto’s Cenicero Estate in Rioja Alta, where vines are planted in lime-clay and ferrous-clay soils at 500 meters above sea level. When the harvest and selection of grapes is complete, Coto de Imaz Reserva undergoes alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It is macerated for up to 18 days with frequent pumping to find a balance between fruit and extraction. Finally, the wine spends 17-18 months aging in 225-liter American oak barrels, and three and a half years in bottle before release.
The wine’s label is based on an engraving by the artisan Ricardo Barriobeña of iconic monuments on the property. The Imaz monastery, owned by the company, is the main theme of the engraving on the label. The use of this image is a nod to the monks who cultivated the vineyards in the area in the 16th century.
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