Marqués de Cáceres: ¡Salud!

It seems for many wine-making families, wine rather than blood flows through their veins. This is especially true for the wineries Vineyard Brands imports considering they are all family owned, including Marqués de Cáceres.

The Forners are a 5th generation wine family who have revolutionized wine growing in the Rioja region of Spain. Founded in 1970, the story of Marqués de Cáceres starts much earlier, in 1920, when Enrique's father and grandfather owned "Vinicola Forner," in Valencia, Spain. 

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The Spanish Civil War forced the Forner's into exile in France. Although the family was forced to leave their home, they were immersed in one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world. While in France, the Forners purchased two châteaux in the Haut Médoc- the Bordeaux region. These two châteaux- Château Camensac and Château Larose-Trintaudon- are now recognized as two of the finest properties in Bordeaux. 

When Enrique Forner returned to his Spanish homeland he was armed with a wealth of wine knowledge and experience. He had learned from the best in France and was ready to establish a bodega. He selected the finest viticultural area Cenicero in Rioja Alta. In gently rolling hills bordered by the Ebro River, the region is as beautiful as it is fertile. 

Forner's first Rioja red wine was a 1968 vintage. Two years later Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres was officially founded, with the reputed oenologist from Bordeaux, Emile Peynaud, as wine consultant. 

Enrique Forner's impact can be seen throughout the Spanish wine industry we know today. Influenced by his time in France, Forner introduced the system of estate-bottling by limiting his source of grapes to those of the immediate area - a departure from the local practice of using more widespread sources of supply. He established the Union Viti-Vinicola, together with a selection of growers who supply the Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres with grapes; this restricted source of grapes gives a consistent style and character to the wine. He along with six other bodegas, the "Magnificent 7", was instrumental in reforming the rules of the Rioja D.O. (Denominación de Origen). This ensures quality and high standards for the wines of Rioja. 

Marqués de Cáceres gained its distinctive name from the actual Marqués de Cáceres in 1974 who became a founder-shareholder of the Bodega. The marquesado has its origins in the XVIII century and was granted by the King of Spain to the Captain of the Royal Spanish Navy Don Juan Ambrosio García de Cáceres and Montemayor in gratitude for his outstanding services to the Crown in the war of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Enrique Forner retired in 2007, and his daughter, continuing the family legacy, took over control of the bodega. Marqués de Cáceres celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010 as a leading brand in Spain and around the world and is available in more than 120 markets.

The Cáceres portfolio has grown extensively since that first red in 1968. Wines include: 

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Marqués de Cáceres White is made from 100% Verdejo grapes from Rueda. Very fresh bouquet with citrus and floral notes. Deliciously refreshing in the mouth with pleasant vivacity and long-lasting flavours.

Marqués de Cáceres Antea Barrel Fermented White, produced from Viura grapes, with a small percentage of Malvasia. This fine wine is elegant and complex, with a bouquet of ripe apples, and a hint of vanilla in the rich fruit.

Marqués de Cáceres Satinela is a delicate, fruity, slightly sweet white wine, made from Viura grapes, with a small percentage of Malvasia. The grapes were harvested late in their maturity, very ripe and concentrated. Aromas of apricot, peach, and acacia flowers.

Marqués de Cáceres Deusa Nai Albariño from Rias Baixas. The name Deusa Nai means “mother goddess”, referring to the bounty of the earth. A fresh and fragrant bouquet with mineral notes and a hint of grapefruit and mandarin orange. With refreshing acidity and good length, ready to be enjoyed now but will continue to develp in bottle.

Marqués de Cáceres Rosé is dry, very fruity, fresh and light, with a delicate pink color. It is made from Tempranillo grapes (80%) and Garnacha (20%) selected from the highest slopes of the Rioja Alta. It is cold-fermented and undergoes a brief maceration, which imparts to the wine its pink color.

Marqués de Cáceres Excellens Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Red A selection of wines tailored to on-premise accounts with limited production, sourced from premium vineyards in Rioja for the Red and Rosé, and in Rueda for the Sauvignon Blanc.

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza, noted for its spicy varietal character, its balance and lingering finish, is made from 85% Tempranillo grapes, with the balance split between the Graciano and Garnacha Tinta varieties. The wine is aged in small barrels of French oak for 12 months and in the bottle for at least 14 months.

Marqués de Cáceres Reserva Tempranillo (85%), and Graciano and Garnacha Tinta (15%). The grapes are selected form vineyards that are well exposed to the sun, and from a considerable portion of older vines, that produce lower yields. The Reservas are aged in barrels from central France for 22 months, followed by 2 years or more in bottle. It is made only in the best vintages, a rich and velvety wine with great depth.

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva from old vines, Tempranillo (85%), and Graciano and Garnacha Tinta (15%), aged up to 26-28 months in oak and up to 4 years in the bottle. Produced only from vintages classed as “excellent” or “very good”.

Marqués de Cáceres MC 100% Tempranillo, this choice wine is made from a selection of grapes grown in vineyards of very limited production. Aged in new French oak for 15 months, the MC has a fresh bouquet that opens out with notes of blackberries, violet and delicate spices. Rich and full in the mouth with good structure, wrapped in delicious, rounded tannins.

Marqués de Cáceres Gaudium (Latin: “satisfaction, joy, pleasure of the senses”) is made exclusively from Rioja’s finest vineyards that are planted with old vines which produce a very limited yield. A rigorous selection of the best grape varieties - 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano - are handpicked to ensure optimum maturity. Aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months and a minimum of 24 months in bottle, thus achieving the elegance which characterizes this great wine. 

Albariño: The Audacious

Far away from the hustle and bustle of Madrid, the art and architecture of cosmopolitan Barcelona, and the sun-soaked beaches of Valencia, there lies the small wine region of Rías Baixas tucked away in the northwestern corner of Spain. Known as “Green Spain”, this hilly area located in the autonomous community of Galicia shares very little in common with the dry, desert-like conditions of the rest of the country.  The climate is decidedly maritime, and rainfall (and humidity) is plentiful here.  Historically, the area is closely tied to the culture of the early Gallic people who settled here.  Today traces of this distinct culture are still observed in the fair skin of the population, the native Gallego language which is still widely spoken, the regional seafood-dominated cuisine, and the traditional dress, music, and dances of the region.  This uniqueness is also evident in the fascinating and delicious wines of the region, especially its distinct native treasure, Albariño.

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Tradition dictates that the ancestor of the modern Albariño vine was brought to the region in the 12th century by Cistercian monks of the wealthy Cluny Abbey located in Saône-et-Loire, France (an area in Burgundy).  Although the translation of the name Albariño (“white of the Rhine”) seems to support this tradition, today many ampelographers believe the vine may be indigenous to the region due to its prolific presence in the wild growing along the trunks of poplar trees and there being no genetic evidence of parentage by vine species north of the Pyrenees.  

Wine production in Galicia and Rías Baixas is well over 90% white and, of that, about 92% is Albariño.  The humidity of the region can be problematic for producing healthy grapes, so several viticultural practices have evolved to allow the grapes to have maximum exposure to sunlight and maximum circulation of air to prevent mildew and ensure even ripening.  The vines are traditionally widely spaced and trained on granite pergolas with a wire trellis called a parra.  The workers often stand on grape bins to harvest the high hanging fruit.  Low yields and temperature-controlled winemaking have revolutionized the style of wines produced in the region in the past several decades.

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Albariño wines display a very unique and exuberant aromatic and flavor profile.  Generally the wines are dry with high acidity and a light body.   There is a very strong botanical element to these wines, which can border on that of many aromatic varietals such as Petit Manseng or Viognier.   The botanical aromas and flavors, along with those of rich stone fruits, citrus, tropical fruits, and the characteristic touch of saline sea spray are characteristic of these beautiful wines, which are perfectly suited to the fresh seafood cuisine of the region. 

A wonderful example of Albariño is produced by the Marqués de Cáceres winery of Rioja legend.  They call their 100% Albariño wine Deusa Nai (“mother goddess”) in honor of the goddess of fertility who was highly worshipped by the early Gallic habitants of the region.  Cristina Forner, owener of Marqués de Cáceres, says that they seek to transfer the magic of this ancient myth and the romance of the Rías Baixas region to this wine.  The crafting of this wine from vineyard to bottle is exceptionally artisanal.  The grapes come from the the O Rosal area (one of three main sub-regions in Rías Baixas) where the undulating, granitic vineyards are very close the ocean.  The harvest is 100% by hand, and the fermentation and less maturation are done in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to maximum the vivacity and freshness of the varietal.  The resulting wine is a pale golden color with a distinct mineral character emanating from the terroir.  Characteristic notes of ocean minerals and sea spray intertwine with deep floral and citrus tones.  Stone fruits, such as pear, white peach, and nectarine, further convey the unmistakable character of the grape.  It is truly a white wine of pedigree and distinction. 

When pairing Albariño with food, the first clue is the native cuisine of the Galician region.  This wine simply sings with fresh, simple preparations of high quality seafood.  Fresh white crab, mixed shellfish platters, ceviche, simple grilled fish, and sushi and sashimi immediately come to mind for the younger wines that emphasize the fruit and freshness of the varietal.  More mature examples with perhaps some oak influence are excellent partners for richer dishes such as seafood stews or scallops.  In pairing Albariño wines, do as the Spanish do and consider them “the Manzanilla sherries of the North”, as both wines contain distinctive ocean notes and pair so seamlessly with seafood.  And don’t forget this fruity, vivacious wine as a wonderful aperitif before dinner!

Albariño is truly a special, distinctive grape grown in a special, distinctive place.  It has the broad appeal of favorite mainstays such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio but with a certain uniqueness of place that really distinguishes it from all others.  And people are starting to catch on.  Albariño has enjoyed a surge in popularity in the US for the past two decades.  This popularity has now taken the grape to vineyards in California in the regions of Los Carneros, Napa, and the Edna Valley and even to Oregon and Washington.  In the end, however, the truest expression of Albariño will always come from its ancestral home in Green Spain.

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Port Cocktails

Port is a fortified wine, produced in the mountainous eastern reaches of the Douro Valley of Portugal. Arguably the most famous fortified wine with a rich history, Port is experiencing something of a resurgence.

Curious about port? Maybe a little hesitant to try it? Try a port cocktail! We’ve rounded up a few recipes that are perfect for port first timers and those well-versed in the wine.

With all of these recipes, we highly recommend Warre's Ports. Founded in 1670, Warre & Co. is the oldest and one of the most highly esteemed port shipping firms in the world.


PORT OF CALL
The Clover Club in New York City makes a delicious cocktail combining the bright, acidic notes of cranberry and lemon with the rich, warm flavors of port and cinnamon. Perfect for the upcoming season, this cocktail has all the holiday flavors you know and love with a unique twist.
Ingredients:
1 oz gin
1 oz Ruby Port
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz cinnamon syrup (can be made by simmering some simple syrup with cinnamon sticks or bark)
1 spoonful of cranberry preserves
Instructions:
Shake and strain into a glass over crushed ice and garnish with a blackberry, a raspberry, and a mint sprig.

Recipe & Photo:  GQ Magazine

Recipe & Photo: GQ Magazine


MANHATTAN
Port can also be used in some of your favorite, best-known cocktails, like a Manhattan. Use tawny port instead of sweet vermouth and orange bitters rather than Angostura and you have a fantastic seasonal cocktail- no pumpkin spice in sight.
Ingredients:
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce port
2 dashes orange bitters
Instructions: 
Stir all ingredients with cracked ice until cold.  Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

Image: Port Cocktails, Recipe:  Cocktail Enthusiast

Image: Port Cocktails, Recipe: Cocktail Enthusiast


WHITE PORT & TONIC
Gin and tonics are a perennial favorite, but if you're looking for a new classic, try a white port and tonic. Popular in Portugal, white port adds a different flavor that pairs nicely with either a lemon or lime twist. 
Ingredients: 
1 ½ ounces white port
3 ounces tonic water
Wedge of lime or lemon
Instructions:
Fill a tumbler with ice. Add white port and top with tonic. Stir briefly. Depending on your taste, squeeze a wedge of either lime or lemon over the drink and drop into the glass

Photo & Recipe:  New York Times Cooking

Photo & Recipe: New York Times Cooking


THE ROBERT FROST COCKTAIL
Created for one of the Obamas' White House holiday parties, this aromatic cocktail also uses white port.
Ingredients:
3/4 ounce bourbon
3/4 ounce dry amontillado sherry
3/4 ounce white port
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 dash orange bitters
Instructions:
1.    Combine ingredients and shake with ice.
2.   Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
3.   Garnish with thinly sliced orange and lemon wheels.

Photo: OhSoBeautifulPaper Recipe:  Punch Drink

Photo: OhSoBeautifulPaper Recipe: Punch Drink


Do you have any favorite port cocktails? Have you tried any of the above? Let us know!