Wine of the week: El Coto Rioja Crianza 2015

El Coto RiojaThe El Coto Rioja crianza is one of the world’s great cheap wines, a Spanish red to enjoy over and over — even when you don’t get a sample

The Wine Curmudgeon has always been ambivalent about samples. Yes, they save me a lot of money, but too much of the wine I get as samples isn’t worth drinking — let alone writing about. One of the few times I’ve missed samples is when the El Coto Rioja stopped showing up.

That’s because the El Coto Rioja ($10, purchased, 13%) is one of the world’s great cheap wines, and samples mean I get every new release. Buying it is much more hit or miss; I haven’t tasted the wine in more than two years.

Which is entirely too long. This is classic tempranillo, a red wine from the Rioja region of Spain. And the price makes it all that much better. All of the varietal character that is supposed to be in this kind of wine is there: the bright cherry color, the fresh red fruit with a touch of orange peel in the aroma, and the tart cherry fruit and spice flavors. Know, too, that Crianza is the most affordable and accessible of the three versions of Rioja, so it’s supposed to be simple – and simple does not mean stupid.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. This is winter red wine, perfect for stews, braises, and almost anything else (a sloppy cheeseburger and onion rings?) when it’s cold and snowy and you want to sip and to sigh and to enjoy.

Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons

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