Exploring Legendary Winery Marqués de Riscal


Our new blogging group, #WorldWineTravel is having it’s inaugural Saturday twitter chat tomorrow, January 23, 2021. We’ve decided that we are going to explore Spain throughout the year. I drink Spanish wines generally outside of the home rather than have them at home. In the days pre-Covid and really pre-Niccolo (my son) I used to hang out often at a Spanish wine bar in my neighborhood, Buceo. I loved trying out their wines by the glass, eating Marcona almonds and tapas. I’ve studied Spanish wine throughout the years in various ways, obtaining a certificate years ago from the Spanish Wine School. I am also thinking of doing the Spanish Wine Scholar program at the Wine Scholar Guild. This new group is a perfect push to up my game in Spanish wines.

For our initial trip to Spain we are starting with the most famous of regions and the one with the longest imported wines in the US, Rioja. Our host for this month, Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click! gives a great overview of Rioja here and here.

I decided to look at one legendary producer in Rioja and one of the first wines I tried, Marqués de Riscal. The winery was founded in 1858 by D. Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga. Their first wines were bottled in 1962 and they were the first Rioja wines to be bottled. The original bodega was built in 1860 and then the cellar was expanded with building with the construction of another part called “El Palomar”.  The winery received many award in the early years and it was the first wine not from France to win a diploma of honor of the Bordeaux Exhibition.  You can see the diploma because they have incorporated it in their label.

Another distinctive feature of their bottles is the gold netting that is around the bottle. This began in the early years of the 20th Century as a way to prevent falsifications.

Their newest building which is also home to the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, was designed by Frank O. Gehry. It is a thing of beauty and rises out of the ground like a phoenix.

The winery has been active through the decades, introducing new varieties, promoting white wines in Rueda and developing a tourism hub called The City of Wine. Apparently in 2015, they had a mega vertical tasting of 114 vintages of their wines. I wish I could have been part of that.

I bought the Marques de Riscal Riserva 2014. It is made with 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano and Mazuelo from 30- to 40-year-old vines . It is a classic Rioja with all the aromas and flavors I associate with this region. Black fruit and spice, oak, dill, tomato leaf , cinnamon and bramble. It has a lovely mouthfeel, velvety and enveloping with silky, fine tannins, concentrated, layered waves of flavor coming over the palate. It is very intense and persistent yet balanced thanks to its lively acidity. It has 14% acidity and it is a beautiful match with a roast, aged cheese or stewed meat.

2014 is a mixed year in terms of the weather in some parts of the world. In Spain, they saw a lot of rain, more than usual and had an unusually cool Summer but September was a long warm month which helped. According to the Wine Spectator, “good producers could make good wine in Rioja but only with a lot of work.” I try to collect wines from 2014 because it is the year of my son’s birth.

I’m super excited for our collective exploration of Spain this year. Check out what my fellow bloggers have to say and what angle they are writing about. Salud!

Links to World Wine Travel Bloggers Exploration of Rioja
Take a look below to learn something new about Rioja and Rioja wines. After reading some posts, you’ll want to join our chat. Look for us on Twitter at #WorldWineTravel on Saturday Jan. 23 from 11am EST.


  1. Seems like they did not let the mixed weather of 2014 affect their wine quality at all! Sounds like it was seriously good.

  2. I had that bottle, too! Haven’t posted my pairing or tasting notes, but it was amazing. Thanks for sharing. And I’m looking forward to exploring more Spanish wines in the coming months with #WorldWineTravel.

  3. This is a great and accessible bottle of wine! We enjoyed one in December with braised pork tacos and a fancy dessert. I would love to get to see their beautiful “City of Wine” what a spectacular building. I am so excited about our virtual travel to Spain this year!

  4. The idea of sitting in a tapas bar and trying wines while eating marcona almonds and other goodies sounds so magical right now. Thanks for sharing more info on Marques de Riscal — this is one I really hope to make it to one day!

  5. I’ve seen photos of the Frank O. Gehry building, but didn’t know what it housed until now. Stunning. Appreciate the nuggets of information such as the purpose of the gold netting. Great post, Susannah. I will be looking for this wine.

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