One of my favorite comfort foods for an evening meal is a grilled cheese sandwich. But I’ve added a few twists over the years, as my culinary horizons have expanded. My latest version, enjoyed on a cool autumn night in the midst of the baseball playoffs, featured ciabatta filled with aged cheddar and sliced tomatoes that was then pan-grilled in duck fat. It would have been even better with sliced red onions layered in, but that’s where my wife, Wendy, draws the line. Instead, I topped it off with her homemade chili sauce.
It’s quite a sammy, as my colleague Bruce Sanderson told me recently—a dish that calls out for a hearty wine. I found just the ticket with the El Coto de Rioja White 2009. Made from the Viura grape (also called Macabeo), this wine from Spain’s most famous appellation features lots of fresh fruit flavors, including juicy bosc pear and quince, with hints of tarragon and apricot on the finish, all backed by fresh acidity.
The winemaking is refreshingly straightforward as well—cold maceration with the must for 12 to 24 hours and then fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 15 days, with a short time in the bottle before release. It was just the ticket to balance the rich, toothsome flavors of the cheddar, duck fat and hot pepper notes of the sandwich. I rated it 87 points, non-blind, and it’s a heck of a bargain at just $10 a bottle.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for El Coto de Rioja White 2009 (87, $10).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among Spanish whites.