ImageIt’s Meatless Monday, which means another pairing designed to push the bar.  And just to highlight what Meatless Monday means, it’s a worldwide initiative designed to influence people to cut meat out of their diets once a week to reduce their saturated fat intake and improve their health.  Today we introduce another unconventional pairing, with a wine that can be versatile and pleasant with everything from seafood to hearty meats and stews.  It’s a Spanish Rioja from Marqués de Cáceres: a Bodega that pushes a few bars of its own.

With a successful background in crafting fine Bordeaux, vintners Enrique Forner & Emile Peynaud introduced new traditions to Rioja designed to allow the fruit of the terroir to shine.  By using the finest new French oak, and discarding age-old practices of using seasoned American oak, the wines spend less time in barrel, giving more importance to the fruit.  The Reservas are only bottled in exceptional vintages, and 2005 was exactly that, delivering a limited crop of smaller sized berries due to a dry summer that were packed with punch.  The blend is 85% Tempranillo, and 15% Garnacha Tinta & Graciano, which gives the wine its dark ruby color.  It’s very fragrant, with strawberries, licorice, vanilla & cedar jumping out of the glass into your nose.  The juice is sweet and plump with balanced acidity, tobacco and notes of fig and quince paste, and has a silky finish.  We pair it with a Grilled Moroccan-Spiced Salmon in a Yogurt sauce, where the blend of texture, spice, and complexity make this a delicious compliment for the Rioja.  It’s very common to find Moroccan dishes paired with Spanish wines due to the proximity of their countries and similarities of their culture.  Stray away from the common white wine pairing, and go fishing.  –JT

MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES Rioja Reserva 2005



Related scores: WS-91 (#75 on Top 100 of 2012)

Market price: $25 (purchased on

Recommended glassware: Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic

Decanting time: 30-45 min

Serving temperature: 60-65F/16-18C

Drinking window: Drink now through 2018

Food pairing: Grilled Moroccan-Spiced Salmon with Yogurt Sauce