What is remarkable about this Marqués de Cáceres wine, besides being superb, is that it follows the typical design of a Rioja red blend.
As Tempranillo wines are made throughout Spain, I have compiled information from two sources, “A privileged region for quality grape growing – Regulatory Board of Denominación de Origen Rioja” (2017) and Keevil et al. (2009/2010), in order to find out what is particular about La Rioja region and its typical red blend.
According to the two texts, La Rioja is divided into three sub-regions, all with different climate, altitude or soil conditions. We learn from the two sources that Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa benefit from Atlantic climate and that vineyards are grown up to 600 m above sea level. Their topography and soils are different, with chalky-clay, ferrous-clay or alluvial soils in Rioja Alta and chalky-clay soils “situated in terraces and small plots” in Rioja Alavesa (“A Privileged Region,” 2017). In Keevil et al. (2009/2010), the authors go further and state that the two sub-regions offer proper conditions for Tempranillo and Graciano vines. Rioja Baja has a completely different profile, with a Mediterranean climate, lower altitude of only 300 m and alluvial and ferrous-clay soils, as information from the two sources shows. Keevil et al. (2009/2010) states again which grape varieties seem to find their suitable environment in this area: Garnacha Tinta (Grenache) and Mazuelo (Carignan).
Union Vitivinícola, S.A., the owner of “Marqués de Cáceres” trademark, only holds facilities in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa sub-regions (“Legal Advice,” 2017; “From The Vine,” 2017). From Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva technical sheet for the latest vintage on sale, we can infer that the winemakers follow the Rioja blend guidelines through using grapes grown on small parcels at various altitudes, within the boundaries of no less than 5 communes (Gran Reserva, 2013). The same document shows that this wine is “made only in the best vintages” and that Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta and Graciano grapes are sourced from old vines. Three of the five red grape varieties permitted in the D.O.C.a are thus included in the blend (Grape Varieties, 2017).
For comparison, CVNE Viña Real Gran Reserva, also a very good wine, is made of two grape varieties, Tempranillo and Graciano, harvested in Rioja Alavesa only (Viña Real, 2015). Rather than showing the potential of La Rioja region as a whole, CVNE’s wine emphasizes the fruitiness of quality Tempranillo grapes, with finesse added by oak and the characteristic earthiness of Rioja wines. It is a lovely blend, but very different from Marqués de Cáceres.
Deep ruby colour, fading, with strong aromas of strawberry, sour cherry, some preserved red fruits. Meaty undertones and earth nuances, developed with age, contribute complexity, while the whole is spiced up with black pepper and vanilla. Multilayered flavours on the palate are complemented by quite enough acidity. Sour cherry, red berries, plum, some preserved red fruits again, are enriched by the mineral character – earth – vegetal nuances – bell pepper, cucumber – cinnamon and coffee. The body is full and, surprisingly for Rioja, this wine has quite bold tannins. The finish could have been a little longer. This Marqués de Cáceres wine is very representative of its region, grape varieties and style.
- Winery: Marqués de Cáceres
- Name: Gran Reserva
- Vintage: 2004
- Appellation: DOCa Rioja
- Blend: Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta (Grenache), Mazuelo(Carignan)
- Region: La Rioja
- Country: Spain
- A privileged region for quality grape growing – Regulatory Board of Denominación de Origen Rioja. (2017). Uk.riojawine.com. Retrieved 16 April 2017, from
- Keevil, S., Adams, G., Austin, C., Bodains, R., Besonen, J., & Buckley, K., … Williams, D. (2010). Vinurile lumii [Wines of the world] (pp. 300-301). București: Litera Internațional (Original work published 2009).
- From the vine to the glass – Marqués de Cáceres. (2017). Marqués de Cáceres. Retrieved 29 October 2017, from
- Gran Reserva. (2013). Retrieved from
- Grape varieties – Regulatory Board of Denominación de Origen Rioja. (2017). Uk.riojawine.com. Retrieved 30 April 2017, from
- Viña Real Gran Reserva. (2015). Retrieved from
Categories: Tasting Notes