At the time of the Spanish Civil War, the Forner family left their home country and went to settle across the border in France. In due course, they came to own Château Camensac, a 5ième cru classé in the Mèdoc, and Château Larose-Trintaudon, the largest vineyard in the Haut-Médoc.
With the death of Franco and the re-installation of the monarchy in Spain, Henri Forner decided to return there, leaving his brother Elysée to look after the Bordeaux properties. What Henri created was a Rioja company, Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres, that was different in many ways. First of all, Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres did not own any vineyards, but its shareholders were vineyard owners. Secondly, the wines would differ from those that had traditionally made in Rioja; they would be aged in oak barrels, rather than large vats and there would be more concentration on ageing in the bottle. As for the white and rosé wines, they would be cold fermented and kept in stainless steel. Leading Bordeaux experts, such as Emile Peynaud and later Michel Rolland were brought in to advise on making wines that would appeal to the global consumer. They made their first wines with the outstanding 1970 vintage. This was the first of the new-wave Rioja bodegas and their wines were soon market leaders in many countries in the world.
Now run by Henri’s daughter Christine, the company continues to lead the way and has spread its wings to other Spanish wine regions, with wineries in Rueda and Ribera del Duero and have Cavas and wines from the Rías Baixas made for them. They also now produce a range of Riojas from the very best grapes to which they have access, which they sell under the Excellens label.
Fine Wines Direct have long had a very close relationship with the Bodega and give their wines maximum exposure on the market.
Christopher Fielden started in the wine trade, in the late fifties, with the agency in the North of England for Gonzalez Byass sherries. He has been involved in the drinks trade for more than half a century and can claim to be the first to have imported wines from Albania and Uruguay into Britain and the first to have sold Irish whiskey in Tahiti, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone. His travels have taken him to more than one hundred countries.
On the British market, he launched such diverse wines as Jacob’s creek, Sutter Home, Marques de Caceres, and Felton Road. He is passionately interested in trade education and is the longest-standing lecturer for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
He is currently the columnist for The Church Times, had a column in Decanter for more than ten years, and has written for The Wine Spectator, Wine, Wine & Spirit, Good Housekeeping, etc., as well as journals in Holland, France, and Austria. His previous books include A Travellers Wine Guide to France, Is this the Wine you ordered, Sir?, and The Wines of Argentina, Chile, and Latin America.
He now spends his time as a rural clergy spouse, meddling in village affairs and playing the occasional game of cricket.