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Porcini Risotto & Red Rioja

Although many wineries with noble names don't have noble owners, there really is a marqués behind Spain's Marqués de Griñón winery: founder and chief winemaker Carlos Falcó Fernández de Córdova. Falcó, long one of Spain's most restless innovators, is the creator of the 1999 Enartis Rioja ($35), a first-of-its-kind "Super Rioja," which, like the Super-Tuscan wines of Italy, combines local grapes and international varietals. A Bordeaux lover, Falcó shocked his neighbors in 1974 by planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in his vineyards in central Spain and later employing the help of Australian vineyardist Richard Smart and French winemaker Michel Rolland.

Falcó further shook things up in this tradition-bound region by emphasizing fresher, less extensively aged wines over the long-aged (and often tired-tasting) Gran Reserva—style wines. In 1994 Falcó revitalized Dominio de Susar, an estate in the Rioja Baja subregion, where he was granted special permission to plant French grapes, like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, alongside Rioja's own Tempranillo. This led to the creation of Enartis, a blend of slightly more than half Tempranillo with three other grapes.

Though it is classified as a Rioja, Enartis has a spiciness, depth of color and rich flavor that's rarely found in the region's wine. In fact, it is this intensity of flavor, says chef Iñigo Pérez (who serves as a consultant to Falcó and is the chef and owner of two Madrid restaurants, Urrechu and El Fogón de Zein), that makes Enartis such a good match to his rich dish of porcini risotto with Serrano ham.

—Richard Nalley

Published March 2004
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