In the 1990’s, when the world discovered Rioja, the emphasis was all on the region’s red wines, and it was these that led the charge on to the supermarket shelves.
What, you didn’t know there was any other kind of Rioja? A white (Blanco) Rioja? Oh yes, and today I am looking at a very superior version, this week’s Five Star Nick’s Wine of the Week, the El Coto de Rioja Blanco 2012 ($10)
This is the perfect summer white, brimming with the essence of white peaches, shot through with ribbons of aromatic minerality and absolutely, irresistibly quaffable. Also it’s a super-bargain at just $10.
To learn more about this lovely wine I spoke to Victor Fuentes of Grupo Baron De Ley, El Coto’s owners.
In some ways it’s more difficult to make a fine white Rioja than a red. “When you talk to our winemakers they tell you that it’s much more challenging to make a high quality, clean white wine than a good quality red wine. The reason is we’re talking about young wines where there is no oak so the whole emphasis is put on the freshness and the fruitiness, so they’re very delicate wines and any flaw will be obvious.”
These the El Coto Blanco has avoided in effortless style – it’s young and fresh, not a complicated wine, but beautifully clean, with a purity of fruit and crisp citrus elements balanced by a round fullness in the mouth.
They achieve the freshness by using dry ice to preserve the grapes on their journay from the vineyard to the winery. “We implemented with the vintage of 2010 a whole system to produce huge quantities of dry ice which we take to the vineyards when harvesting. We cover all the grapes with a thick layer of dry ice so that the grapes are kept fresh when transported to the winery, very well protected against the heat, against oxidation.”
And the big mouthfeel? “The key here is to work with the lees during the fermentation process to try and get a little bit of volume sensation in the mouth. “But we don’t want to over-build it because then we would be shifting to a completely different style of wine.”
And that, I, and any one else looking for a simple summer sipper, would not appreciate. Now, all I have to do is find a quiet shaded terrace on which to enjoy it.
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