Could there be a more typical, obvious, dependable and delicious Spanish red? Or, for that matter, many other a red?
This wine is for many, the epitome of classic red wine. It makes for a brilliant present. It goes with Friday nights, Tuesday nights and even Birthdays and Christmas. There is a classiness and elegance, refinement and consistency that this property manages to deliver with seemingly zero effort, which makes it such an icon in the world of wine.
Is it really all about the gold netting?
I don't think so.
But it might - just might - help.
Marques de Riscal themselves call this wine a 'cultural icon, an essential wine' and if you don't know it yet, please do get to do so, as they are absolutely spot on. It really is that much of an important wine. Made as the flagship product of the estate since the 1860s, this is a wine that has been sold as THE Rioja to set the bar and do the spade work for all others to follow. Still on top? Still at the cutting edge? No, not this wine; though they may claim that they make other cuvées that are forming trends in other parts of their portfolio. But this wine is the one that people buy. And they buy it in their droves. It is sold in nearly half of the countries in the world. Its fans include Salvador Dalí and Ernest Hemingway.
So: what you get is the following... The wine is made of 94% Tempranillo and 6% Graciano, medium-short maceration to preserve aromatic freshness, the wine is aged for 24 months in American oak barrels, one year further aging in bottle and then it is ready to strut its stuff. Which is...
An expressive nose with notes of dark cherry, black pepper, liquorice and cinnamon. A vibrant yet integrated palate, with supporting fresh acidity, well-rounded and balanced tannins and a soft and smooth mouthfeel that leads to a long flavourful finish.
It has an unbelievable cabinet of trophies and awards. Interestingly from an historic perspective, you can see the Bordeaux awards from the late 19th-Century on the label, but perhaps more use and relevance are the awards for the more recent vintages: Tim Atkin 93 Points; Mundus Vini Gold Medal; James Suckling 93 Points; Guiá de Vinos Gourmets 94 and 98 points... It's clear that they intended to stay exactly where they are. Sure, why would they change?!
But they did.
Some might remember this wine as being big and rich... not like the "freshness" that they talk about on their website today. The memory is not failing - there was a significant change in the 2010 vintage toward a more modern (or post-modern) style that was much more restrained and lighter in alcohol. This is possibly the biggest concession to the modern movement that they have made, but what is impressive is that in becoming easier to drink, as well as slightly lighter in style, they retained the character and flavours that we all wanted to continue to experience. It was a risky move and could have come out wrong; but in fact they managed it so well, that it's possible that they had been planning such a change for decades but were in planning stage for most of it. No one will say, but the impact on sales was zero, so in fact, no one really noticed. It's like a face-lift on a 911. Apart from the version in the early 2000s, no one remembers the other changes that Porsche made, even though we all know it has evolved, and no one apart from teh most avid followers (or owners) would notice. And we all still want one. Just like Marques de Riscal.
Grape(s): Tempranillo, Graciano
Style: Smooth, Medium Full, Iconic, Fleshy, Elegant, Complex
Best food matches: Tapas, Roasts, Red Meats, Poultry, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses