Marqués de Riscal: Tasting of 100 Vintages

I unfortunately was not invited to this remarkable tasting so I am replying on the comments of one of the lucky participants. He just happens to be Stephen Spurrier, one of the great wine critics of our time.

Contrino: great Rioja winery

Our 2006 Visit to Contrino, a great Rioja wine

Last November a dozen people from 9 countries were treated to the unique experience of tasting a full century of one of the great names in Rioja, Marqués de Riscal. Those 12 lucky people started with the first vintage of 1862 and ended with the 1964, with only 11 vintages not present. All of the wines came from the winery’s ‘Cathedral,’ the depository in the winery’s cellar where each year a vintage is saved for posterity.

The original owner, Don Guillermo Hustado de Amezaga, adopted ideas he learned while in Bordeaux to his native Rioja.

The following selected comments by Spurrier were reported in the SOMM Journal, June/July 2016:

1862- red brown color, naturally ripe fruit

1863-more fragrant, a lovely wine

1874- elegantly robust, full of natural sweetness

1890- almost Burgundian

1897- was superb

1912-incredible clarity and depth at 103 years old

1931-still youthful fine and dry

1932- youthful oaky vigour

1938- rich, elegant, lots of length

1945- superb depth and elegance

1953- really lovely with caressing texture

1964- youngest of the flight, oak, richness and tannins

His favorite vintages: 1874, 1897, 1922, 1945 and 1964


This is a remarkable testimony to the great aging potential of well-made wines from Rioja and explains why so many comparisons are made to wines of Bordeaux. One of the main criticisms of current vintages is that many winemakers are aiming for wines that are more approachable much, much sooner, so it is doubtful that a wine critic 100 years hence will be able to make similar comments.

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