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Bolero and Rioja, a seduction of sound and senses by John Axelrod, February 29, 2012

The founder of Marqués de Cáceres, Enrique Forner, brought French Brodeaux style winemaking to the Rioja Alta. Forner, with the collaboration of Emile Peynaud, had already been proprietors of Chateau Camensac and Chateau Larose Trintaudon, once owned by the Duke of the Infantado, establishing a clear Franc-Espagnol link.

Enrique's daughter, Christina, has carried on this tradition, securing global recognition for their wines. Rioja, the Bordeaux of Spain, is the only denomination in Spain that carries the title of Denominación de Origen Calificada, meaning, wine regions of quality and excellence.

There is probably no greater known work that symbolizes the Franco-Espagnol sentiment than Ravel's Bolero. i admit I am partial to Ravel's music and even though his Tzigane was recently reviewed in a previous article about Rosé from the Camargue, the Rioja is wine from the heart of Spain, and Bolero, thanks in part to the movie "10," goes straight to the heart.

Indeed, the Marqués de Cáceres Crianza is a beauty, with an intense ruby red color, typical of Rioja wines, made with a minimum 85% of tempranillo grapes., combined with garnacha (like the French Grenache) and Graciano. While the Reserva and Gran Reserva may have greater body, vintage, grape selection and therefore higher cost, and the new Gaudium may be the hidden treasure, the Crianza is equally appealing, not only for its modest price, under 10€, but for its outstanding flavor. What designates the Crianza as a special wine is not only its bouquet filled with ripe raspberries, cherries and even hints of spice, velvet and a degree of vanilla, but that each sip offers something new. The 2nd taste is always better than the first, then starting from a clear burst of fruit, to a roundness that covers the palate, to a thicker texture as it swirls around the mouth, to a dense, melodic yet spicy effect, resulting eventually in an evenly balanced structure that finally offers a fleshy, sun drenched tannin exploding in a final finish that lingers as long as the Spanish night.

Sounds like Bolero, with its clear rhythmic motive, focusing on the 2nd beat, and the opening flute theme, like a perfume, that seduces the ear into oriental harmonies combining celeste, piccolo and horn, to a macho saxophone, then a sweet soprano sax, to an intoxicated trombone, then to a fluidity of strings, becoming more and more intense and thick, until finally the explosion arrives, in E major, a full "klangfarbenrausch," with all its elements coming together as is the final chord that is never forgotten.

Just as the audience jumps to its feet, shouting out bravos after Bolero, so, too, the connoisseur of this Rioja will sit back and say Olé! The senses are seduced, the sounds are satisfying, and the secret to a special evening might not necessarily need a woman named Bo. Just give me instead Ravel's Bolero and a Marqués de Cáceres Crianza, and the night takes care of itself.