The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 14 of 148

14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER { great values } WITH 22 YEARS AT Spain's Grupo Barón de Ley, International General Director Victor Fuentes focuses on day-to-day management. Charged with a wide array of tasks—from exporting to the U.S., China and Asia to marketing, sales and brand development—he oversees a dedicated team in various markets. It's "a long-term process that must be developed and perfected," he says. Fuentes "fell into the wine business by accident" at the age of six during a skiing competition in the Pyrenees, where he was awarded a fine bottle of Rioja that broke just minutes afterward. After studying economics and business administra - tion, completing military service in the Navy and spending a year working at the Spanish embassy in Algiers, Algeria, Fuentes went to Rioja in 1995 to serve as export manager for Barón de Ley brands such as El Coto de Rioja, Barón de Ley, Museum and Maximo. Today, his mission is to offer high-quality wine at an affordable price. El Coto is the biggest owner of land in Rioja, with 2,000 acres dedicated to qual - ity and sound volume. The brand's philosophy is to focus on estate fruit and to use 100 percent Tempranillo in reds—rare in Rioja, as the appel - lation's wines have traditionally been field blends of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano and Maturna Tinta. Reveling in Rioja EXCEPTIONAL WINES AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE FROM EL COTO by Rachel Macalisang Victor Fuentes is International General Director for Spain's Grupo Barón de Ley. TASTING NOTES El Coto is delivering lasting-quality, beautifully aged wines of tremendous value that express the purity and ter - roir of Rioja. A perfect day in Beverly Hills at Heritage Fine Wines was an opportune time to taste through the range of El Coto de Rioja wines with Victor Fuentes. El Coto 2016 Rioja Blanco (SRP $10.99) Made from indigenous grapes—88% Viura, 6% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Verdejo—grown in Rioja Alavesa. Aged in stainless steel. 2015 was the first vintage in which El Coto harvested from vine - yards at 800 meters, the highest altitude for white Rioja. Notes of honey, chamomile, peach and tropical fruits—pineapple and papaya. El Coto 2016 Rioja Rosado (SRP $10.99) Going against the trend of pink Provençal wines, El Coto's rosé stays true to its vibrant, pure salmon color. Made from 95% Tempranillo and 5% Garnacha sourced from the estate and vineyards in Rioja Alavesa. Tempranillo provides backbone and structure, while Garnacha provides sweet, candied aromas of strawberry, gardenia, jasmine and rose petals. El Coto 2013 Rioja Crianza (SRP $13.99) Aged for 14 months in American oak and six to nine months in the bottle. The Tempranillo is more elegant than powerful, showing red raspber - ries, cherries, vanilla and coconut, with beautiful complexity. El Coto 2010 Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva (SRP $22.99) The Reserva, the brand's benchmark of quality, shows the fruiti - ness, complexity and con- centration of Rioja Alta. In new American oak for 18 months and four years aging in the bottle, this wine is on another level of concentration, power, smokines and complexity. Earth, espresso, smoke, coffee, cigar box and leather. El Coto 2008 Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva (SRP $42.99) Two years of oak aging in both French and American cooperage and three years in the bottle. Fuentes explains this is a "fireplace wine—all about complexity and aromatics." El Coto is imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons. PHOTO: JOSH FREEDMAN

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