AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 9
Name of wine estate: Marqués de Riscal
Wine region: Rioja
Standout points: The City of Wine, including the Frank Gehry masterpiece Marqués de Riscal hotel
Winemaker: Francisco Hurtado
Wine style: Classic Rioja (and an iconic Cabernet Sauvignon)
City of Wine
Located in the medieval town of Elciego in Rioja Alavesa, Marques de Riscal is the oldest winery in the Rioja region. Founded in 1858, in recent times it has set itself the task of becoming a globally recognised oenotourism destination – a task it has achieved with resounding success. Opened to the public in 2006, Riscal’s City of Wine is one of the most-visited wine tourism sites in the world. It includes the fantastical Marqués de Riscal Hotel, designed by visionary architect Frank Gehry; two restaurants managed by Michelin-starred Riojan chef Francis Paniego; a Caudalie wine therapy spa and, of course, the historic Riscal winery.
Inspired by Bordeaux
Bodega de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, to give Riscal its full name, was established by Camilo Hurtado de Amézaga, the eponymous marquis, who was inspired to establish the winery after visiting Bordeaux in the mid-1800s. He decided to bring several French Vitis vinifera cultivars to Rioja and found that Cabernet Sauvignon was especially suited to Rioja, and therefore made it a signature of his wines. On occasion, the marquis’s ‘reserva Médoc’ wines can be sampled in special tastings.
Future vision and tradition
The mind-bogglingly avant-garde hotel, a masterpiece of architectural vision and design by Frank Gehry, belies the deep tradition of this celebrated estate, and while many photo-happy visitors will want to add this extraordinary edifice to their Instagram feed, wine enthusiasts will be more attracted to what lies in the Riscal ‘Botellería Histórica’, which houses wines from every vintage since the first harvest in 1862.
The heart of Rioja Alavesa
The Riscal hotel is the perfect base from which to explore this spellbinding wine region. From here, it is just a short stroll to the Museo del Vino Dinastía Vivanco – Europe’s largest wine museum, while visits to the neighbouring villages of La Guardia and Cenicero will impress you with their sense of living winemaking history. For these reasons and many more besides, Marqués de Riscal is as richly a rewarding wine travel experience as one could wish for.