Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva


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.

Region: Rioja

Country: Spain

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

Alcohol: 14%

Why buy from us?

When you buy wine from The Allotment Wine Co. you're helping a small Irish company that in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers who grow the grapes and make amazing wines. We only work with partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.

Delivery & Returns

You'll get free delivery when you buy 12 x 75cl bottles of wine online from The Allotment, saving you €7.99.

We charge €7.99 per delivery for quantities less than that.

Our hours for processing orders are between 9am - 6pm Monday to Friday.

We pack your online wine order along the following timelines:

Wine orders for delivery in Dublin, received before 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected the next working day.

Wine orders for nationwide delivery, received by 12pm on weekdays are prepared so that delivery should be expected two working days later.

Customer reviews

Great choice and excellent service. Received my delivery the next day.
Paul H.
Amazing service from the get go!
I emailed Chris looking for wine recommendations for a birthday gift. Got a really speedy, helpful reply and not only that but he hand delivered it on time to the birthday girl wishing her a happy birthday. Absolutely bowled over by the service. Cannot recommend highly enough.
Michelle McM.
Could not recommend The Allotment enough. The selection is fantastic and each wine that I've drank from them has been utterly phenomenal. Delivery was no hassle and I had the wine at my door in 2 days. Couldn't have asked for a better experience.
Luke B.
Good range of interesting wines. Good personal attention to their orders. Very customer focused. I would be happy to recommend this company to any prospective customer.
Jim D.
A great experience ordering from The Allotment Wine Company. A wide variety of wines to try something new and at good prices with super quick delivery! Really convenient too as opposed to trying to find parking!
N. Dowling
Delicious and interesting range of wines delivered promptly to my door. Not far off that lovely feeling of coming back laden from a good wine store but without any of the traffic or the worry of breaking the wine en route (very impressive travel wrap).
M. Dorman
Chris fields a fine range of excellent, keenly-priced wines. Orders are safely packaged and dispatched efficiently and promptly. Strongly recommended.
David M.
Great selection of wines, hassle free ordering, payment and delivery. Highly recommended.
Patrick H.
Hi, I'm Chris Gifford.

And you're very welcome to The Allotment Wine Co.

When you wine from me, you're supporting a small Irish business which in turn supports small, sustainable wine producers, as well as other small, dedicated Irish wine importers.

When selecting wines, I look for partners who share a deep respect and connection with the land and its traditions, witnessed in a firm commitment to quality and sustainability. All of which makes for better wines.