My students and my wine tasting friends know that I perpetually extoll the virtues of Spanish wines. And it used to be that the only Spanish wine anyone knew anything about was Rioja. In point of fact, a long time ago, the only Spanish wine that was available, period was Rioja. My how things have changed, but that doesn’t mean that we should eschew or ignore that Spanish classic…

Rioja is arguably Spain’s most well-known wine region and may in fact be one of its oldest. Evidence of grape cultivation goes back to medieval times, with some historians claiming even earlier evidence of Phoenician and possibly even Greek wine making in the region.

If you look back in my archives to a posting from March 24, 2012, you will find the requisite technical details concerning the wines of Rioja, which I will not bother to repeat here…

Instead, let’s spend some time talking about one of my all-time favorite Rioja producers – Marqués de Cáceres and their wonderful Gran Reserva…

MarquesCaceresGR

Marqués de Cáceres, while not the oldest bodega in Rioja, is the product of a long tradition of wine making. Founded in 1970 by Enrique Forner, the descendent of successful Bordeaux wine makers, in conjunction with supervision from Emile Penaud, arguably one of Bordeaux’s most famous wine makers, Marqués de Cáceres was the first new winery in Rioja in nearly 50 years. The outstanding Bordeaux lineage produces wines of impeccable quality, with classic, elegantly structured characters, but with the unmistakable imprint of traditional Rioja wines. The winery is located in Cenicero, which is in La Rioja Alta and maintains a facility with over 40,000 aging barrels and over 10 million bottles of wine in their cellars. The wines are primarily Tempranillo-based, but do contain quantities of Garnacha and Graciano. In the case of the 2004 Gran Reserva, the wine is 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha and Graciano. The vintage is highly regarded in Spain, with near ideal conditions throughout the growing season and into harvest time. The wines from the vintage tend to have solid structure with good fruit density, which translates to above average aging potential – this Gran Reserva is no exception…

My tasting note:

Powerful, yet refined nose with dark cherry, graphite and cedar hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and smooth, well-integrated tannin – well balanced. Dark fruit core with sour cherry, red current, cocoa dust saddle leather and tobacco notes. Long finish – smooth with vanilla and briarwood on the aftertaste. Drinking well and should improve nicely for another 5 to 7 years, easily.

At an average bottle price of $29.99 before the discount, this wine is a very respectable value.

Cheers!

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