los vinos - elaboracion
Grape selection and sorting.

At El Coto de Rioja our wines are made directly with grapes coming from our own vineyards, which occupy a total surface area of more than 500 hectares, and also with grapes grown by other D.O.Ca viticulturists, primarily from the Rioja Alavesa.

Our wines are based on fine quality grapes, with thorough on-going controls made throughout the entire growth cycle. The harvesting date is determined by the grape ripeness (alcoholic and phenolic), taking account of the calendar, the weather forecast and the various grape quality parameters such as sugar concentration, acidity and grape condition.

On our own estates, the grapes are harvested and carefully taken to the winery in 350 kg boxes in order to maintain the berries in optimum condition. Once at the winery, in addition to the inspection made by the Wine Board inspectors, the grapes are further analysed for ripeness and lack of disease, followed by a meticulous visual inspection to ensure that nothing but the best grapes are selected.

Once the grapes have been certified as meeting the required quality standards, they are taken to the hoppers which have now replaced the former stone presses as containers for the grapes on their arrival at the winery. The de-stemmer is fitted with a worm style auger which serves to separate the grape berries from the stems.

The actual process to convert the grapes into wine can then begin. A miracle performed by Dionysus or Bacchus, the respective gods of wine of the Greeks and Romans, who were responsible for introducing winemaking and wine consumption into the Spanish peninsula. We shall now go on to describe the vinification process, which varies according to the type of wine to be made.

Red wine vinification.

Our red wines are made from the principal autochthonous variety grown in La Rioja, namely the Tempranillo, blended in some cases with the Garnacha and Graciano.

The grape berries obtained from the de-stemming process then undergo a crushing process in which the grapes are pressed in order to extract the juices or must. At El Coto de Rioja, we use crushers with natural rubber rollers that exert just the right amount of pressure to extract the grape must without excessively damaging the berries or crushing the pips.

The next step is to take the paste (solids and grape must) to the fermentation vats.

We have two wine-making buildings equipped with temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats. However, for some of our wines, we still use the first tanks to be installed at our Bodega, made of epoxy-coated concrete.

It is in these tanks where the magic of the alcoholic fermentation takes place, a process in which the yeast starts to act on the sugars present in the grape must in order to convert it into alcohol, releasing heat and carbon dioxide and the aromas characteristic of the process. Control of the temperature (in our case it never exceeds 28 ºC) and oxygen are key factors in the fermentation process, which can take as long as 10 days in the case of red wine.

Maceration is the next step in the process, consisting in maintaining the grape must in contact with the grape skins or solids in order to extract the colour pigments (the anthocyanins from the skins) and aromas. This is a key part in the red wine making process, although an excessive amount of time can entail sacrificing fruit for colour. Maceration can be prolonged for up to two weeks beyond the end of the alcoholic fermentation and different techniques can also be applied such as Remontage (a French word meaning pump-over, in which the grape must is pumped up from the bottom of the vat to punch the cap of grape solids formed at the top). Another process is Délestage or lightening whereby the grape juice is drained out and then returned to the vat, over the grape solids, with the pressure of the liquid increasing the colour and flavour extraction process. However, most importantly of all, each tank is processed individually, and here the laboratory and wine tasting are essential.

Devatting follows maceration, in order to separate the wine from the grape solids. This paste is then passed through pneumatic presses, governed by selective pressure cycles, to extract the wine. This press wine has a higher tannin content and can be useful in strengthening some wines for subsequent barrel ageing.

The wine then undergoes a micro-oxygenation process in order to stabilise its colour and round of the tannins. It is now ready for secondary or malolactic fermentation.

White vinification.

Our white wines are principally made from the Viura variety. A variety with a high degree of acidity, a marked fruity flavour and certain floral notes which confirm it as the preferred variety with the Rioja Designation of Origin.

In order to extract the full potential from the grapes, whilst preserving the fine, delicate aroma, the grapes are subject to a brief cold maceration process in an oxygen-free atmosphere. In order to achieve a dual cooling and inerting effect, we use an innovative system by means of which the grapes are cooled by injecting liquid C02 just after the de-stemming process and before entering the fermentation vat, thereby rapidly reducing the temperature and avoiding stressing the grapes.

The grape juices ferment at a temperature of between 14 to 16 ºC, which lengthens the fermentation process for up to 14 days. Once the alcoholic fermentation process has finalised, the wine is maintained at low temperatures until ready for bottling.

Rosé vinification.

Our rosé wine is made from the Tempranillo and Garnacha red wine varieties.

To maximise the aromatic potential of the rosé wine, the grapes are subjected to a brief, cold maceration process in an oxygen-free atmosphere. This process gives its name to the wine given the fact that, in the period in which the must is in contact with the grape solids, it acquires its characteristic pinkish colour, it "turns pink".

Once the desired colour has been obtained, the grape must is bled off. To achieve a dual cooling and inerting effect, the grapes are cooled with liquid Co2, thereby quickly reducing the temperature and preventing the evaporation of the fruit aromas which are so characteristic of our rosé wines.

The grape must, separated from the solids, ferments at a temperature of between 14 to 16 ºC, which, like the white wines, lengthens the fermentation process and the wine is also maintained at low temperatures until ready for bottling.

Wine ageing

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  • 2. f. Period of lactation.
  • 3. f. Wine making process.

The notion of wine ageing (crianza), in its widest sense, refers to the controlled barrel or bottle ageing process at the winery. It is therefore particularly limited to red wines. Although there are some white wines that are also aged, these are the exception to the rule. One cannot help thinking of the parallelism that gave rise to the word, a reflection of the love and care shown by the Bodega owners to their wines, and a fundamental characteristic of Rioja wines after the introduction of the French vinification methods during the second half of the 19th century.

And the fact is that the wine, which on many occasions is referred to as a living being, perhaps due to its changing nature and the care required, sleeps in 225 litre oak barrels (the so-called Bordeaux barrel is the only one authorised for the D.O.Ca Rioja designation of origin) for as long as is required.

Our Crianza wines currently remain at least more than one year in barrels, before being fined in bottles for some eight months. Reserva wines are barrel aged for almost two years and a further two years in bottles whilst Gran Reserva wines are aged for more than 5 years in barrels and bottles, with at least two years in barrels.

During the time spent in the barrel, the wine aromas and colours are enhanced by the oak, before the wine is then polished and rounded in the bottle.

At El Coto de Rioja, all our red wines are aged in oak barrels. Due to the wide market acceptance of our wines, our stock of barrels has become one of the greatest in the D.O.Ca designation of origin. In addition to currently having a stock of some 70,000 barrels, we are also aware of the importance of using new oak. For this reason the average time of utilisation is just over 3 years.

All our wine-ageing cellars are duly climate controlled in order to guarantee correct wine ageing and conservation.

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Camino Viejo de Logroño, 26 - 01320 Oyón (Álava) España
Tfno. +34 945 622 216 - Fax. +34 945 622 315 info@elcoto.com
Wine in Moderation
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