The buck stops here

in Wine by

By Celia Strong

As usual, we have several meanings with some of the things we say. Especially in our weekly wine lesson. But, as we sip and learn, the extra layers of meanings just add to the fun. For me, at least. And, hopefully, for you.

So, as we travel to Spain, let’s take a moment to review our region. Rioja. In the past, we have done both red and white wines from this region. Today, with a specific holiday not too far away, it seems appropriate to look at a Rioja rosé. Rosado as they call them there. Now that we know that, it seems we’ll have to review both Rioja and rosés. Boy, will we do a lot of work just to learn a new wine. So, anyhow, Rioja is probably Spain’s best known wine region. It is located in northern, central Spain. Its wines date back to Roman times in the area. In 1991, Rioja was the first wine in the country to be granted the higher DOC status. Most of the wines from Rioja are reds, made from Tempranillo and Garnacha. Small amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo can also be used. For our purposes, the Tempranillo and Garnacha matter because they are also used to make “rosado” Rioja. The Rioja region of Spain is known for their rosé wines.

Rosé wines, as we hopefully all remember, are basically made like red wines. Just with a much shorter time of contact between the grape skins and their juice. The skins are what give wines their color; the longer the contact the deeper the color. Also, more skin contact produces more flavors and textures. Rosés have more acidity than tannins (also from the skins), which is why they are served chilled. A cooler temperature perks up the acidity in a glass of wine. Around the world, most wine producing regions do make rosés, from the grape varieties of their vineyards. That means we can get rosés with a wide range of flavors, styles, weights, shades of pink and, of course, prices. So we know what this really means, let’s look at the basic characteristics of rosés made from our two varieties.

Tempranillo rosé wine is a savory style. (There are also fruity styles.) These are usually a pale pink shade and herbaceous notes that include green peppercorns, watermelon, strawberry and hints of meatiness. These wines pair well with vegetables, spicy sausages, Asian flavors and Mexican foods. Garnacha rosés (Grenache rosés) are a fruitier style. More strawberry, cherry, sweet orange and allspice flavors, often fuller bodied, with a medium pink to a ruby red color. These are great warm weather, picnic wines.

All of which gets to our winery for this week. El Coto. El Coto was founded in 1970, by a group of wine makers who wanted to make a new style of Rioja. They brought their first wines into the market in 1975, with great success. Two years later they doubled their production. Today, their brand is rated the number one Rioja in the market. El Coto owns 500 acres in the Rioja region, from which they get most of the grapes for our rosé. Rosado!

Our El Coto Rosado is made from half Tempranillo and half Garnacha. The must (juice from the crushed grapes) sits with the skins for 48 hours. Then, there is a cold fermentation to enhance fruit flavors and the wine is bottled. It has a cleansing acidity that is balanced with strawberry and watermelon flavors, a slight herbaceous undertone, and a long, clean finish. Really a delicious rosé. Yes, it will go well with all the foods we mentioned already. But, there is also that holiday. This wine is perfect with ham. The acidity tweaks the meat’s saltiness. The herbaceous notes match the clove flavors on a ham. Its color makes you think of all the spring flowers coming up. But, what’s with the buck? El Coto means “closure.” Like something is “closed in.” It is the company logo, though. Proudly displayed in front of their winery and on every label. So maybe, somehow, his spirit is in their wines? Taste and you decide. For $9.97. The buck stops there. Enjoy.