If you only drink one Spanish wine in your lifetime, it should probably be one from Marques De Riscal. Consistency, quality and value are trademarks for this eponymous Rioja producer, and their wines at every level represent why Rioja is so special. I will go so far as to say, “If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life, I would choose Rioja.” That being said, when it was announced that architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain, would design the new Marqués De Riscal hotel in El Ciego, Spain, I went nuts. Immediately, I added a new destination to my bucket list. It was pretty good timing too, as I do not have many left to visit, and time is no longer on my side.
Architectural publications have called the building, “…a composition of rectilinear prisms … enveloped in cascades of pink and gold-colored titanium and silver stainless steel.” To me, visually it evokes what I think Jimi Hendrix would have created if he was an architect and not a musician.
Upon arrival, the massive yet beautiful structure is appealing and inviting. Its visually mind-blowing, and wildly imaginative structure that houses a 14-room luxury hotel, a 120-seat restaurant and a health club. If you plan to visit, make your reservations early, as this hotel is truly a destination luxury experience sought by anyone whose tastes demand only the finest of accommodations. The hotel is part of Starwood Hotels “The Luxury Collection.” These properties are among the best managed hotels in the world; truly an example of world class lodging.
The restaurant is Michelin starred with a depth of Rioja wines not available anywhere else in the world. The wine list is also rounded out with over two hundred other international labels. The restaurant offers traditional Spanish cuisine on the ala-carte menu. There is also an interesting 18 course tasting menu that I would highly recommend if your inner culinarian wants to immerse itself in the flavors of Rioja. While you are planning your trip to Rioja, I suggest you take some time to acquaint yourself with some of the wines from Marques De Riscal. I have included below three reviews of some of their wines representing various levels of quality. I would be honored (and have been) to have all three at my dinner table. Enjoy!
2005 Marqués De Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva
This wine reminds me of the lyrics from the song “Speed Racer” by the band Cake. Please excuse as I may have taken a wee bit of illiterary license with the words. It’s going the distance, its time to feed churning and burning; it yearns for the cup; the sun has gone down and the moon has come up and long ago somebody left with their cup. This Grand dame is a party starter! Big, bold and beautiful it expresses gorgeous ripe dripping layers of red and black fruit. The finish delivers deep levels of spice and dark, dangerous chocolate ending with nuances of minerality. Go with Jamon Iberico, braised lamb and 12 month Manchego cheese.
Excellent | 14.5% ABV | SRP: $45
2009 Marqués De Riscal Rioja Reserva
When I was visiting wineries (Bodegas) in Rioja, I was amazed when we would walk through the warehouses and see rack after rack of unlabeled bottled wines from vintages that were decades old. Although not quite that old, the 2009 vintage is still holding strong and it seems they still have a considerable amount of those wines still available.
While sampling this vintage it is apparent this 2009 vintage is holding up very well. I was afforded glimpses of what an aged Rioja Tempranillo wine will evolve into and that wine reflected why so many consider it to be a highly treasured addition to any dinner table or cellar. A somewhat malty nose, mingled with fresh tobacco leaf generates an alluring aroma profile developing an enjoyable scent despite the dank description. Dried fruits and cedar with a bit of root beer flavor hovering in the background. The mouth-feel is a bit tight and sinewy showcasing how much fruit this wine still has left in its life.
Excellent | 14.0% ABV | SRP: $20
2010 Marqués De Riscal Rioja Próximo
Completing this trio of Marqués De Riscal Rioja wine is the Próximo label, which is thier entry level wine that drinks more like a Crianza than a Joven. The mineral aroma of quarry dust mingles with bright briny red fruit to release a complex boquet of aromas. On the palate, there is smoke, tar and fresh tobacco leaf with a slight hint of stewed fruit. This is a very good example of young Tempranillo that will surprise with it’s high quality.
Very Good | 13.5% ABV | SRP: $10