El Coto was founded in 1970 in Rioja Alavesa and has grown from humble beginnings into one of the best-known Rioja producers. Today El Coto has over 700 hectares of vineyard in production across the three Rioja DOCa sub-zones of Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental. This makes them the largest vineyard owner in Rioja and gives them great control of the quality of the grapes which go into their wines, the majority of which are sourced from their own vineyards. Their stand-out reds hail primarily from their estate at Cenicero in the heart of Rioja Alta. There is an increased focus on sustainability, both in the vineyard and the winery, including the use of cover crops and integrated pest management. In addition, they are in the process of converting 38 hectares of the Los Almendros vineyard to organic viticulture, aiming to be certified in the next two years.
They have invested in a new property, Finca Carbonera, ideal for the production of their white wines. With parts of the estate reaching almost 900 metres above sea level, it is the highest vineyard in all of Rioja, and perfect for the new white grape varieties.
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.
Coto Real is made from a blend of grapes sourced from the 50-year-old ‘Los Cuatros Viejos’ vineyard in Rioja Alta. The soils are limestone and clay.
The 2011 vintage in Rioja was amongst the best of the past thirty years. Despite drought in certain areas, vine and canopy development was excellent across the region. Low incidences of pests and disease made for a good crop of exceptionally healthy grapes. This allowed for seamless fermentation, promising well-structured and concentrated wines with good colour levels. The Rioja Control Board rated the 2011 vintage as ‘Excellent’.
The must is fermented at 22-27º in stainless steel tanks over a period of 21-30 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. The wine is then aged for 20 months in new American and French oak, followed by 16 months in bottle prior to release.
Intense deep ruby in colour. On the nose there is an abundance of black and red berry fruits. These are accompanied by rich aromas of figs, liquorice, chocolate, spices and hints of leather. On the palate the body is round, with firm, ripe tannins. This is a powerful, complex wine with a long finish, carrying through hints of walnuts, pepper and even red meat.
Works well with Tagine, paprika based dishes and hard cheeses.