Cortijo Blanco is an estate-bottled wine produced from Viura grapes. Unlike most whites from Rioja, Cortijo blanco is aged in 100% stainless steel to showcase the vibrant purity of this mineral-elegant grape. Rioja is Spain's most prestigious wine region and for wine drinkers who want to learn more about this magical, storybook wine region, and enjoy an uncommonly good white wine - there's no better introduction than Cortijo blanco. Cortijo means, cottage or shack, a reference to the fact that shacks, often times, make better wine than most high-flown Chateaux in Rioja. The Philosophy of Cortijo is very simple yet very effective: to make better wine, you need to harvest better grapes. Cortijo improves the quality of its wines by doing a better job in the vineyards. Rather than building a chateau or a beautiful tasting room, Cortijo pays to take care of the only meaningful ingredient, the grapes. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, Cortijo is made with estate-owned grapes. The goal with Cortijo is to show a pure, youthful expression of Rioja Alta. Cortijo is a sort of “non-profit organization”. It is very difficult to find such a pure expression of Rioja at this price point.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This is an honest wine with great complexity at an unbelievable price. This wine is made from 100% un-oaked Viura, the main white grape of Rioja. Made from estate-owned grapes, this wine is a floral, bright and clean expression of Viura.
RATING HISTORY: 2015 88VM; 2013 89IWC; 2012RP 2011 89RP & 89IWC, 2008IWC
GRAPE: 100% Viura. Organically grown vines planted in 1973. Tended in clay and limestone soil at 630 m (2,067ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This white's clean character is a perfect pairing for grilled chicken or steak salads, thin-crust brick oven pizza (especially Margherita with fresh basil), and most seafood dishes. This wine's easy drinking character is an excellent match for most casual foods. It's also a perfect sipper all by itself, especially for the summer.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After picking during the cool morning hours, the grapes are transported to the winery in small boxes, and then they are de-stemmed and crushed. The skins mix with the unfermented juice for three days. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The slow fermentation process (30 days at 12C or 54F) allows Cortijo Blanco to retain a high degree of richness and flavor. When vinifying Viura, the challenge is to help the grape overcome any neutral aromas and flavors. Skin contact and long, slow fermentation are both strong solutions. After fermentation, the wine ages in stainless steel tank for 2 months on the lees. To retain freshness, the wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. After a light filtration, the wine is bottled.
PRODUCTION: 10,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The estate-owned vineyards are located in the towns of Najera, within the Rioja Alta (Zone 3), at approximately 630 meters (2,067t.) elevation. The soils are clay and limestone. For climate, the average temperature from April-October is 61.5F with 18.3 inches of yearly rainfall. The moderately warm days and cool nights of this Continental Atlantic climate forces the grapes to ripen slowly, resulting in wines that show brighter aromas and more fruit flavors.
TASTING NOTES: Pale gold. Sharply focused lemon zest, pear and floral scents carry subtle honey and herb overtones. Dry and fleshy in the mouth, offering bitter citrus pith and fresh fig flavors that put on weight with air. Nicely concentrated yet nervy, finishing with good energy and warm, fruity persistence.-- Josh Raynolds
All photos: Friederike Paetzold