We are so used to seeing the emblematic name, Marqués de Cáceres, on a bottle of wine that it is easy to forget that it is a real person, and that he lives (and enjoys wine) in Valencia.
They say that ‘Spain is different’, and they should know; and so it should come as no surprise that Marqués de Cáceres wine does not come from Extremadura but from La Rioja, and that the Marqués himself is neither from Extremadura nor from La Rioja but from Valencia.
Juan Noguera is the 8th Marqués de Cáceres, and his title was awarded to one of his ancestors, a ship’s captain in the 17th century, for distinguished services rendered during the war to recuperate the Spanish kingdom of Naples. Apparently his surname was García but he was called ‘de Cáceres’ to distinguish him from others of the same name because that was where he was based.
When one of his descendants died childless, it was a nephew from the Noguera family who inherited the title.
The 4th Marqués was instrumental in the restoration of the monarchy in 1875 when the army proclaimed Alfonso 12th king on the plains around Sagunto in what amounted to a bloodless coup d’état. For this the family shield now bears the title ‘Grandeza de España’, placing them among the elite within the aristocracy.
Juan Noguera confesses to being an unashamed monarchist, and his house abounds with photos showing the close relationship between his own family and that of Spanish royalty.
Although he is a qualified lawyer and spent most of his career in banking, Juan’s great passion is wine, and for two decades he has in fact been the President of the Valencia Oenologist Society, which meets every Tuesday.
It was his father who, as a close personal friend of Enrique Forner, founder of the Marqués de Cáceres Winery, one of the most important in Spain, arranged for the family title to be used by the company, which was founded after Forner had spent the Civil War in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, creating his wine empire. On his journeys from France to his native Sagunto, passing through La Rioja en route, he realised the potential of the area as a vine-growing region, and set up his wine-producing business at the village of Cenicero in 1970.
The two families have collaborated ever since and it has since been Juan’s job and pleasure to travel the world promoting the wines, which were among the first Spanish wines to aim for higher quality and a lighter, milder taste, not unlike French wines, in comparison with the rougher Spanish ones.
He hasn’t been unsuccessful, as ‘Marqués de Cáceres’ wines are now sold in over 110 countries, the United Kingdom being the best customer, and they have won many prizes.
Although he loves and appreciates good wines, Juan Noguera believes that the world of wine suffers from an excess of snobbery and nonsense, and that the true test of a good wine is personal satisfaction. Nevertheless his home has a whole wall dedicated to books on wine and he is always keen to learn more and, as he says, take nothing for granted, believing that you should start each day from scratch.
One of his great regrets is not having learnt foreign languages and he has compensated by ensuring that his own three children have learnt, having sent them to study at the French Lyceum. Two of them, like him, are now qualified lawyers, and one a teacher.
When he is not travelling around the world, largely to South and Central America, he is tending his own vines in the booming vineyard area around Jumilla, or trying out the wines and food in one of Valencia’s many exciting new restaurants. Whatever he is doing, he is enjoying himself and making sure that those with him enjoy themselves too; a noble attitude to life.