The Wine Curmudgeon has been tasting a lot of post-modern Spanish wine lately, the kind made to appeal to the American palate and the Winestream Media. That means they have as much as 1 1/2 points more alcohol and lots of sweet red fruit. The wines are sound (my new favorite wine term), but just don ?t taste particularly Spanish. There ?s nothing really wrong with this, as long as you understand what ?s going on.
The El Coto ($11, purchased, 12.5%) , on the other hand, will never be confused with one of those wines. It ?s about as Spanish as they come ? red wine from the Rioja region made with tempranillo, a very funky, classic mushroom/forest floor aroma, and a fair of amount of oak on the finish that shows up as vanilla. And don ?t worry about it being an older current vintage, since that ?s not unusual for Rioja.
What makes this wine even more enjoyable is that it ?s not old-fashioned in technique. There is lots and lots of bright cherry fruit, all in balance and all quite pleasant. And, since it ?s Rioja, it will pair with everything from roast chicken to meatier fish to grilled beef to Spanish cheese.
If this isn ?t quite a $10 Hall of Fame wine, it ?s a reminder that old-fashioned doesn ?t always mean out of date.