Marqués de Riscal, pioneer in the production of top quality wines in Rioja and Rueda, sets out on a new venture, making a highly expressive red wine outside the Rioja D.O. This wine has been created in a concept of freedom of elaboration from a careful selection of the best properties and vines of the Tempranillo variety from the gravelly soils of alluvial vineyards in the Duero region. This variety produces very aromatic wines full of body and colour, well structured, fresh and intense. During the harvest, decided by the technical department at Riscal, only the fully ripe tempranillo grapes, which have had good sunlight exposure are accepted, collected in boxes of 18 kgs. maximum capacity so as to avoid any crushing of the fruit. A venture upon which Riscal embarks with the same sense of quality as in its Rueda and Rioja wines, for which it can look to the prestigious advice of Paul Pontallier, technical director at Château Margaux and Guy Guimberteau, of the Bordeaux Institute of Oenology, two eminent figures in French winemaking.
The 1999 vintage was characterised by an unusually dry autumn and winter with numerous frosts in both seasons. As a result, budbreak was later than normal in recent years. There were no spring frosts to reduce the harvest and heavy rain in the months of April, May and June. Completely dry summer with a little rainfall in September at harvest time.
Made using grapes from the best properties and vines of the Tempranillo variety from the gravelly soils of alluvial vineyards in the Duero region, this wine displays a violet red colour with no yellowish hues. Fruity aromas with hints of roses and bitter almond. The fragrance of roses emerges in the glass when the wine is still and the aromas of almond are revealed on agitation. Soft on the palate with a slight touch of acidity on the initial impression which passes to a final fixation of tannin on the edges of the tongue. Fermentation controlled at 24ºC. The wine is aged for 5 months in American oak barrels.
Marques de Riscal Winery
Wines of the Herederos de Marqués de Riscal has always been a leading and pioneering company in the wine producing sector. In 1858, it became the first winery in the Rioja to produce wines following the Bordeaux method and in 1972, it was the first winery to promote the Rueda Designation of Origin, where it produced its famous Marqués de Riscal white wines.
Marqués de Riscal sells its products in over 70 countries and its wines have enjoyed the highest international distinctions as well as numerous awards and mentions in the media.
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This highly regarded area of Spain makes some of the best Tempranillo-based wines in the world. Once the only DOCa (recently joined by Priorat in 2001), Rioja is divided into 3 sub-regions: Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa. There are 4 red varieties and 3 white varieties allowed in the Rioja DOC. Tempranillo definitely takes center stage, followed by Garnacha (Grenache), which is sometimes added for body, then Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan). The region also makes roses. For whites, the main grape is Viura (or Macebo), producing fresh, early-drinking wines. Malvasia, the grape that was once the most planted white, is found less often.
The Rioja wine trade is somewhat confusing. Grapes are typically brought to a merchant's bodega from one of the 20,000+ growers in the region, or via a cooperative. The wine is then bottled and labelled by that bodega. Rioja's Consejo Regulador keeps track of all vineyards and bodegas to make sure they are following the DOCa regulations. Put in place to ensure quality, the system also controls prices.
As with the rest of Spain, the wine label may state Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, depending on barrel & bottle maturation. Crianzas are usually found within two years of the vintage and offer fresh, ripe wines. Reserva and Gran Reserva will be found a few years after the vintage, as the bodega will be aging the wines in barrel and bottle before release. Both typically show more secondary characteristics of spice and oak ageing.
The third largest country in production, Spain ranks first in land under vine. Diversity and innovation are the key factors bringing Spain back into the world wine market.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.