The western parts of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa
By Tom Perry
This Guide was last updated on 12 February 2010
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Address: Torrea 1,
Tel: 945 18 08 88 Fax: 945 60 60 23
Geo-coordinates: Latitude: 42:30:39N (42.51096) Longitude: 2:37:6W (-2.61824)
Marqués de Riscal disputes with Marqués de Murrieta the honour of changing how Rioja wines were made in the middle of the 19th century. Riscal hired the winemaker brought from Bordeaux to supervise the unsuccessful Médoc Alavés project in the 1850s, under which Bordeaux winemaking techniques were introduced to wineries in the Alavesa region of Rioja. Today, the winery is owned and operated by several families, one of which is directly descended from the marquis who founded the company in 1858. In spite of its 150 year history, Riscal is firmly at the forefront of innovation in Rioja. When you visit, try Barón de Chirel, Rioja’s first avant-garde wine, that made a sensation when the first vintage was released in the 1980s. The latest project undertaken by the winery is the creation of the City of Wine (see ‘Places to stay' and 'Places to eat’), with extensive restoration of the 1883 vinification and ageing cellars, the construction of an ultra-modern vinification plant, a luxury hotel designed by architect Frank Gehry which includes two restaurants, and a wine-therapy spa run by Caudalie. Along with the Dinastía Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture (see ‘Wine Attractions’), Marqués de Riscal has been largely responsible for the increase of winery tourism in Rioja.
Useful information: Appointment recommended. Tours Monday to Friday at 10.00, 11.30, 13.30, 17.00 and 18.00.; Saturday and Sunday every half-hour from 10.00 to 18.30 except from 14.00 to 15.30. Cost: €10. Special tastings can be arranged by appointment. English, French, German and Basque spoken. The tour does not include a visit to the hotel, restaurant, or the spa but these can be reserveed by calling the central reservations service at the number above.
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