"I cannot think of another Rioja at this price level that offers this much character and fruit" were the words of Robert M. Parker Jr. when writing about Cortijo. Rioja is Spain's most prestigious wine region and for younger or neophyte wine drinkers who want to learn more about this magical, storybook wine region, its grapes and its wines, Cortijo Tinto offers a perfect introduction. Cortijo means cottage or shack, a reference to the fact that even a humble winery in Rioja can make excellent quality wine. The Philosophy of Cortijo is simple: to make better wine, you need to harvest better grapes. The quality of Cortijo wines are achieved by maintaining quality in the vineyards. Rather than building a chateau or a beautiful tasting room, Cortijo focuses on cultivating the only meaningful ingredient, the grapes. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, Cortijo is made with estate-owned grapes. Cortijo Tinto is a pure, youthful expression of Rioja Alta at an excellent price point.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? A pure, bright expression of estate-grown fruit from Rioja Alta. The emphasis is in the fruit flavors and not the oak. In the words of Robert M. Parker, JR. "I cannot think of another Rioja at this price level that offers this much character and fruit".
RATING HISTORY: 2016 90JS; 2015 89VM; 2013 89IWC; 2012 89IWC; 2011 88RP & 88+IWC; 2010RP
GRAPE: 100% Tempranillo. Vines planted from 1969 - 1995. Tended in clay and sandy soil at 568 m (1,865 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: The fresh, pure character of this wine makes this an extremely versatile wine to pair with food. This wine pairs well with white meats like pork and chicken and flaky fish like hake, cod or flounder. This has the fruit and acidity to match with red meats, as well.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After harvest, the skins mix with the unfermented juice for five days at 45F. This pre-fermentation “cold soak” enhances the wines aromas, color and flavor. Once fermentation has taken place, the Tempranillo skins spend another 10 days in tanks to extract all beneficial color and tannins. Subsequently 50% of the wine is aged for 2-3 months in 3 year old French oak barrels and 50% in stainless steel tanks. The oak regiment helps oxygenate the wine, promoting softer tannins, and a better integration and balance of all vinous components without imparting oak flavor.
PRODUCTION: 10,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The fifteen vineyard parcels that go into the making of this great expression of Rioja Alta (Zone 3) are located in two distinct towns, Briones and Arenzana, both sited at approximately 568 meters (1,865 ft.) elevation. In Briones, the soils are thin red clay and sandy. In Arenzana the soils are sandy with alluvial sediment. The climate conditions of this area are very beneficial to wine growing. 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: Brilliant ruby. Lively aromas and flavors of juicy red fruits and peppery spices, plus a sweet hint of mocha. Shows good lift and energy and no rough edges. Subtle tannins give shape to a tangy, persistent finish that leaves a raspberry note behind.-- Josh Raynolds
All photos: Friederike Paetzold