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CasksThe modern era of Rioja wines owes much to the technological developments (here I mean the use of tools rather that its modern use often meaning computerisation) imported from Bordeaux.

Rioja has been known as a good source of wines for centuries, probably even growing grapes and making wine in Roman times. However, what John Radford refers to as “Classic” Rioja began in the late 19th Century.

At this time, two key names imported not only the latest winemaking knowledge from France, but also their expensive wooden barrels for ageing it in; these names were (eventually) the Marques de Murrieta in 1852, and the Marques de Riscal in 1858.

It must have been quite a shock for the locals, and the world, to taste these new styles of wines. Before this, wines were probably lucky to make it through fermentation without spoilage, were probably not very dark coloured as winemakers would be unable to keep the juice on the skins for long, and would almost certainly have to be drunk young so they did not oxidise.

Imagine being there to taste the new wines in that context?!

Well, you in a way you can, if you are very lucky and very rich – and quick.

Christies Auction house has a sale called “Finest & Rarest Wines (Sale 7593)” on June 26th which will include Marques de Riscal wines from one of the earliest vintages of these wines, 1863. Considering the first vintage of this wine was 1858, this is as close as anyone will ever get to that discovery feeling … if they ever choose to drink it that is.

If there is anyone out there that has around £1000 burning a hole in their pocket, then why not bid for the one, and only, bottle of this wine. In fact, bring it around! I’ll cook and we can talk about Rioja’s future while we drink its history.

You know how to reach me!

hat-tip to Decanter for the alert about this auction