In 1970, Enrique Forner founded Marqués de Cáceres, Unión Vitivinícola, S.A., a historic Alliance between a region (Cenicero, La Rioja Alta), an enterprising family that has been devoted to the wine trade for five generations, the best vine growers and vineyards in La Rioja and a Bordeaux concept which revolutionised the production and business model with a single objective: the quality to obtain the best wines, an obsession that today continues to be the leitmotiv of Cristina Forner, the fourth generation of this wine family.
The family experience: the beginning
Enrique Forner, Cristina’s father, worked in the wine trade as a boy. In 1920, his grandfather and his father founded ‘Vinícola Forner’, a family business devoted to the production, sale and exportation of wines in Sagunto (Valencia).
Exiled in France due to the Civil War, Enrique founded a similar business in 1952, in the Rhône and Loire valleys (France), and in 1963 he bought two chateaux grands crus classés in the Haut Medoc region (Bordeaux), Château Camensac and Château Larose Trintaudon, convinced that he would be able to make some of the world’s finest wines.
He returned to Spain in 1968 and, given that a century before wine-producers and merchants from Bordeaux had chosen La Rioja when fleeing the phylloxera plague, he opted for La Rioja and Cenicero, in the heart of the La Rioja Alta sub-region, to continue his great dream.
Enrique Forner turned to his friend, Professor Emile Peynaud, a true revolutionary of winegrowing and winemaking in Bordeaux in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to steep La Rioja in the same reformist spirit.
Enrique Forner found himself in an antiquated La Rioja, with a small group of historic wineries which had taken the name of the region all over the world, clinging to production methods from the previous century, and an emerging group of vintners specialising in loose products and large volumes.
The wine-producer, advised by Peynaud, applied the new growing and production techniques with which his friend was enjoying success in Bordeaux: vineyard control, grape selection, cold production in order to extract the first aromas, ageing in new and semi-new French oak, and long refinement in the bottle in order to strengthen the great virtues of the tempranillo grape in Rioja, in other words, the fineness and elegance.
The consolidation of a model
In 1975, Marqués de Cáceres started selling its first red wines, the 1970 Crianza and the 1975 Gran Reserva.
Compared with the classic Riojas dominated by woody notes and on the verge of oxidation, Enrique Forner offered lively Riojas in which the fruit stood out over the oak, but respecting both the traditional multi-varietal composition dominated by the tempranillo grape and the preference for storing the world’s great wines for long periods.
He also updated the whites and rosés which he moved away from the wood in order to offer the full sensations of youth, aromas and fruits. In 1980, he reorganised the commercial distribution network in Spain and Marqués de Cáceres arrived on the tables of every corner of the country.
Cristina Forner: internationalization
The success of Marqués de Cáceres in Spain was no coincidence. A strong sales team toured the country’s best restaurants, suitcases of excellent wines in hand, the project receiving unequivocal support as soon as they opened the bottles of the new Rioja that the winery was offering.
Cristina Forner, now managing the family company, started work at the family winery in 1983 with a clear objective: the internationalisation of the brand. Today, Marqués de Cáceres exports over 50% of its production and is present in more than 120 countries. It forms part of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum and, as well as being the best-known Rioja in Spain, it is among the top 50 most admired wine brands (Drinks International)
A further push
In the 1990s, a trend for innovation prevailed in La Rioja. Young enologists and wine-producers took inspiration from Bordeaux, just as Enrique Forner had done twenty years previously, and worked the ‘terroir’, the vineyard, to obtain profiles that were different to the traditional Riojas. Marqués de Cáceres, advised by Michel Rolland, the most influential enologist in Bordeaux at the time, were united by a great obsession: the quality of the wines.
In 1996, the third vinification unit was opened, to be used exclusively for top wines, and in 1999, Gaudiumwas launched from the 1994 vintage, which opened a new line of Marqués de Cáceres wines, using the oldest vines in Cenicero, from the original suppliers in 1970 who set out on the adventure with Enrique Forner and the majority of which, or their descendants, are still with us today.
A further demonstration of the work, dedication, respect for the practices of a hundred-year-old agriculture, of the constant support for these very limited plots of La Rioja which only businesses with criteria and history still maintain in order to obtain wines like Gaudium.
The fortieth anniversary
The beginning of the century is tumultuous in La Rioja. Grape prices shoot up and only wineries such as Marqués de Cáceres are able to tolerate such a significant increase of the original prices without being removed from restaurant menus or traditional points of sale.
The economic ‘awakening’ of Spain subsequently causes the supposed top wines to flourish which multiplies the prices exponentially, but Cristina Forner remains firm. The wine catalogue is extended with special wines which join Gaudium, such as the MC or the Paco Rabanne 40 aniversario (year 2010), which received unanimous support from the specialist press, topping the ranking for the points awarded but never for the prices.
“Good quality wine is not a speculative business”, maintains Cristina Forner, the same as now, with the nightmare of that economic awakening in Spain, Marqués de Cáceres sells its wines, as the leading Rioja in Spain and in more than 120 countries, at the price that guarantees the way of life of its vine growers and dignifies the business model.
“Present in more than 120 countries, Marqués de Cáceres, fine wines for pleasure“
At least five generations linked to wine forged the family spirit of Marqués de Cáceres. Enrique Forner, who founded the winery in 1970, learnt the wine trade from his father, who in turn had learnt from his father and grandfather (‘Wine producer Forner’), interrupted in Spain by a period of exile during the Civil War. Cristina Forner, his daughter, key to the internationalisation of Marqués de Cáceres, manages the winery with the pride and experience of one of the great Spanish families for which high-quality wine has never known boundaries, Marqués de Cáceres wines being present in over 120 countries.
A deep conviction in the ideas assimilated by Enrique Forner in France and transferred to La Rioja from 1970 onwards, means that they continue to be the pillars on which Cristina Forner rests Marqués de Cáceres. A spirit based on the production of high-quality wines, that is continually evolving with an established policy of investing in technology and innovation, but indifferent to the passing fashions which distort winemaking from time to time and lose sight of the fundamental objective of this business: offering the consumer a wine that they can enjoy and share with their friends and loved ones, as seamlessly and consistently as the history of Marqués de Cáceres.
for services provided to the Spanish Crown
The name of the winery was given by an old friend of the family D. Forner Vicente Noguera Espinosa de los Monteros, Marqués de Cáceres and Grande de España.
The marquesado has its origins in the XVIII century and was granted by the King of Spain to the Captain of the Royal Spanish Navy Don Juan Ambrosio García de Cáceres and Montemayor in gratitude for his outstanding services to the Crown in the war of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The current Marqués de Cáceres, D .Juan Noguera is still attached to the Bodega.