AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal
Wine region: Rioja
Standout points: The City of Wine, including the visionary Frank Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal hotel; Michelin-starred Gastronomic restaurant
Winemaker: Francisco Hurtado
Wine style: Classic Rioja (and an iconic Cabernet Sauvignon)
Behold: the City of Wine
Founded in 1858 in the medieval town of Elciego in Rioja Alavesa, Marqués de Riscal is the oldest winery in the Rioja region and the source of one of the most ambitious oenotourism projects ever undertaken by a Spanish winery: the City of Wine. Surrounded by extensive vineyards, it incorporates one of the most audacious hotel designs imaginable. Immediately identifiable by it varicoloured titanium roof and asymmetrical structure, the complex is an avant-garde masterpiece housing 43 luxury rooms, a Caudalie Vinotherapie spa, convention centre and more. But while many visitors will want to add this extraordinary edifice to their Instagram feed, wine enthusiasts will be more attracted to what lies in the Riscal cellar – the ‘Botellería Histórica’ – which houses wines from every vintage since the first harvest in 1862.
The Marqués de Riscal Luxury Hotel also contains two stunning restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Gastronomic, which puts the Basque-Riojan cuisine of superchef Francis Paniego (who put Rioja on the world culinary map with his restaurant El Portal de Echaurren) in a wondrously inventive El Bulli-style light. For those wishing to take a post-prandial stroll of the surrounding area, it’s just a short hop from Riscal to the Museo del Vino Dinastía Vivanco – Europe’s largest wine museum – while the neighbouring villages of La Guardia and Cenicero are sure to impress with their sense of living winemaking history.
El Botellería Histórica
With more than eight million bottles of Rioja stored in the Riscal ‘Botellería Histórica’, there are treasures aplenty for the dedicated wine sleuth. Some of the most recherché bottlings are available from the restaurants, while various separate tastings will allow you to sample from the diverse Riscal range – including, on occasion, the ‘Reserva Médoc’ – dedicated to the winery founder, Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga, who, inspired by Bordeaux, was the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Rioja in the mid-1800s.