With its ubiquity on wine store shelves, you would think that Spain’s Marqués de Cáceras winery has been around forever. But the producer of Rioja and Rueda wines was only formed in 1970 by Enrique Forner, who had just returned to Spain after spending decades in exile in France, acquiring wine properties in and techniques of Bordeaux along the way.
Today, as its website notes, Marqués de Cáceras is sold in 120 countries, and because of its wide availability here in the U.S., its Riojas have served for generations as an introduction to the region.
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Perhaps the centerpiece of its offerings is the 2018 Rioja Crianza, as solid an example of the category as you’ll find at around $15 or under. “Crianza” is an aging classification for Spanish wines, and in Rioja it means the wines must receive two years of aging before release, one of them in barrels. (Wines with longer aging requirements are labeled “reserva” and “gran reserva” and are correspondingly more expensive.)
The Marqués de Cáceres Crianza blend is mainly Tempranillo, the star of Rioja, with small amounts of Garnacha and Graciano. Crianza-level wines are usually accessible and easy to drink, and that’s certainly the case with this one.
Red and dark fruit tastes — raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry — dominate on the palate, with subtle oak and earth notes and ample acidity that gives the wine a refreshing lift. You might try it slightly chilled, especially on warm late-summer evenings.
With its affordable price and fruit-driven profile, this is a great wine for burgers, fresh corn on the cob, and grilled summer veggies like squash, peppers, and eggplant. Steak, lamb and pork chops, and grilled salmon would be good pairings as well.