How Marqués de Cáceres Captures Spain’s Vibrant Culture in Each Bottle 

Marqués de Cáceres, a five-generation, family-owned winery with deep roots in the Spanish wine world, does more than craft delicious fine wines: It helps transport you there, sip by sip. From the sun-drenched cobblestone streets and colorful clothing to plates of tapas and lively late nights with friends and family to the sounds of flamenco guitar and the aromas of jamón.

Behind this successful winery is a strong leader. Cristina Forner, the fifth generation in her family to carry on in the wine business, took over Marqués de Cáceres from her father in 2007 after studying winemaking in Bordeaux. Today, Marqués de Cáceres produces over 40 different wines from Rioja and other top D.O.s of Spain and is available in over 120 countries.

When Forner speaks of the winery, its rootedness in Spanish culture and history, and of her family, her eyes sparkle. The energy, passion, and worldliness that she transmits are almost palpable. It’s no wonder that each bottle embodies the rich and colorful spirit of Spain, both old and new.

Carving a New Path Through Spain

Photo Credit: Marqués de Cáceres

Although Marqués de Cáceres started in Rioja, the wine label has not stopped there. Seven years after taking over the business, Cristina Forner led Marqués de Cáceres into its first project outside of Rioja, modernizing the brand with a second winery in Rueda where it produces bright and youthful white wines, most notably from the Verdejo grape. In 2019, Forner expanded into the Ribera del Duero, purchasing Finca La Capilla where stunning examples of the Tempranillo grape are made. Other projects such as a Cava produced in Penedès and Albariño from Rias Baixas are just a few examples of Cristina’s impassioned explorations of new winemaking regions. As president and CEO, she has certainly followed in her father’s footsteps, shying away from passing trends while never being afraid to carve her own path.

From its inception in 1970, Marqués de Cáceres, too, has forged a unique path in the wine business and, in turn, helped redefine Spanish winemaking. Returning from France, where his family lived after being exiled during the Spanish Civil War, Cristina’s father, Enrique Forner, brought back winemaking techniques he learned while living in Bordeaux. Back in his homeland, he chose Rioja Alta, one of Rioja’s three subregions, for the winery.

Today, Rioja is undoubtedly Spain’s most famous wine region — and one of only two DOCa-designated wine regions in the country — but in the 1970s and 1980s, it was practically unknown outside Spain. Many credit the Forner family and Marqués de Cáceres as leaders of the Rioja renaissance, and for putting Spanish wine on the international wine map. Now, Cristina Forner is shining a light on Rueda, Ribera del Duero, and other top D.O.s of Spain.

Fresh, Lively, Food-Friendly Wines

Marqués de Cáceres wine
Photo Credit: Doug Young Photography

From the outset, freshness, liveliness, and pure fruit have been hallmarks of Marqués de Cáceres, which was a departure from the oak-forward, traditional Riojas of the 1970s and 1980s. Rioja, home to Spain’s famous velvety and spicy Tempranillo grape, is known for wines that are partial to aging, gaining even more complexity and body over time.

From inviting Rioja-aged Crianza to refreshing Rueda-made Verdejo, Cristina Forner takes pride in Marqués de Cáceres’ vibrant, approachable range of wines.

Looking to try the typical grape varieties and wine regions of Spain without breaking the bank? These fun, flirty, and elegant wine are your answer. Food-friendly and versatile, they can be paired with a variety of tasty dishes from traditional tapas and paella to gazpacho and ceviche.

What Makes Spanish Wine Sing? Spanish Food

To fully experience Marqués de Cáceres wines, and the authentic taste of Spain’s colorful culture, they are best paired with friends, family, and, of course, Spanish cuisine and ingredients. Not sure where to begin? We’ll get you started with four of the label’s standout wines and what to pair them with.

Crianza Rioja: Medium-Bodied, Spicy, and Inviting

Marqués de Cáceres
Marqués de Cáceres’ Crianza Rioja (Photo Credit: Doug Young Photography)

Crianza is a traditional, medium-bodied red made from Tempranillo grapes. Marqués de Cáceres’ Crianza Rioja is made from 85 percent Tempranillo blended with an even split of Graciano and Garnacha Tinta. Grapes are harvested by hand before being destemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. In order to be labeled Crianza, this wine must be aged for at least two years, including one year in barrel. Marqués de Cáceres’ Crianza Rioja is first aged for 12 months in small barrels of French and American oak, and again for at least 14 months in the bottle.

This medium-bodied, spicy, and inviting wine possesses a lingering finish. Expect a nose bursting with ripe red berries that continue onto the palate. This charming Crianza pairs best with unfussy meals and light-yet-savory dishes. This wine’s softer tannins make it ideal for opening and enjoying during appetizers and entrees.

Suggested food pairings: Hot tapas, chorizo, braised duck, or Iberico ham.

Reserva Rioja: Intense, Velvety, and Full-Bodied

Marqués de Cáceres
Marqués de Cáceres’ Reserva Rioja (Photo Credit: Doug Young Photography)

Reserva Rioja is similar to the Crianza in composition, but this vintage spends nearly four years aging, first for a period of 22 months in barrel, followed by at least two years in the bottle. The result is a wine with more depth and a fuller body that is best when served at the table alongside the meal’s main course.

The grapes for Marqués de Cáceres’ Reserva Rioja are hand-harvested from sun-soaked vineyards, often from older vines that produce lower yields. Prolonged maceration with the skin gives this Reserva Rioja its dark red color and well-defined tannins that pair so well with lean red meats. The velvety, full-bodied backbone of Tempranillo (85 percent) is given an elegant lift when blended with the lighter body and acidity of the Garnacha Tinta (7.5 percent) and Graciano (7.5 percent).

The full body, depth, and elegant tannic structure of the Reserva Rioja make it most suitable for spiced and savory main courses. Think flavorful, lean grilled red meats and dishes that highlight spices like cinnamon, aniseed, and green peppercorn.

Suggested food pairings: Beef ribeye, roasted lamb loin, or even hearty tuna steaks. Traditional Spanish paella is a great pairing as long as the paella features red meats like lamb or beef.

Rosé: Crisp, Dry, Light, and Luscious

Marqués de Cáceres
Marqués de Cáceres’ Rioja Rosé (Photo Credit: Doug Young Photography)

Marqués de Cáceres’ Rioja Rosé is refreshing and vivacious. The 80 percent Tempranillo, 20 percent Garnacha blend is made from grapes grown on the highest slopes in Rioja Alta and features a brilliant and robust shade of coral.

As far as rosés go, this one leans on the young, fresh, and fruity side of the spectrum, while still maintaining a level of underlying richness and spiciness from the Tempranillo. Expect a floral and fruity nose with hints of red melon and summer berry, followed by a crisp and dry finish.

Suggested food pairings: Andalusian gazpacho, grilled shellfish, arroz con pollo, baked salmon, tangy salads, and slightly spicy, light pasta dishes.

Verdejo: Fruity, Light, Crisp, and Lively

Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo (Photo Credit: Doug Young Photography)

The Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo echoes the bright and vibrant side of Spanish culture and people. It’s an excellent pairing for lively get-togethers, particularly when light tapas are on the menu. Made from 100 percent Verdejo grapes from Marqués de Cáceres’ vineyards in the Rueda region, this light and refreshing white shines when served chilled on a hot summer day or when accompanying a backyard barbecue with friends.

Marqués de Cáceres avoids oxidation and meticulously maintains the properties of the Verdejo grape during the harvest and winemaking process. Only harvested at night in cool temperatures, the grapes are further cooled before being pressed in an oxygen-free environment. Fermentation temperatures are controlled, and the wine does not undergo aging.

Grassy, fruity, and floral notes are finished with a touch of citrus, making this Verdejo a perfect complement to grilled white meats, shellfish, fresh salads, and young cheeses.

Suggested food pairings: Manchego cheese, fennel, grapefruit salad, grilled prawns, ceviche, or pork belly.

As with Spanish culture, the heart and soul of Marqués de Cáceres shine brightest when experienced with friends and family, both old and new. Next time you’re searching for the perfect wine to pair with a simple afternoon conversation or a well-planned celebratory feast, raise a glass of Marqués de Cáceres and invoke the spirit of Spain.

This article is sponsored by Marqués de Cáceres.