The opening of Frank Gehry's titanium-jacketed Hotel Marqués de Riscal in the middle of a centuries-old Rioja village put Herederos del Marqués de Riscal winery on the map two years ago. Eat at the starkly urbane restaurant—whitewashed walls, red molded plastic chairs—on the hotel's second floor. Francis Paniego, who earned the nearby Echaurren a Michelin star, has tempered his creative impulses here to cater to a broader clientele.
The nine-course gastronomic menu ($124), which includes delicious curiosities such as pineapple soup and jamón serrano ice cream.
Riojas from three different 1940's vintages (starting at about $718 a bottle) adorn the hefty wine list. Or focus your attention on Riscal's own Barón de Chirel 2001 ($190), a full-throttle red that retains its equilibrium and old-world personality. 1 Calle Torrea, Elciego; 34/94-518-0880; luxurycollection.com; dinner for two $250.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Tokara Estate, an ultramodern stone- and-glass winery, sits on one of the most spectacular spots in South Africa's Winelands: the top of the mountain pass that separates Stellenbosch from Franschhoek. The wines, notably the flagship red blend, are accomplished and complex. Even better is the cooking of Belgian-trained Etienne Bonthuys at the restaurant, which is part South African, part French, and defiantly original.
Calamari and shredded oxtail braised in red wine with ginger ($14)—Bonthuys's signature dish.
Tokara's list includes nearly every important South African producer. Try the Meerlust Rubicon 1999 ($45), a fully mature Cabernet-based blend with a minerally edge. Helshoogte Pass; 27-21/808-5959; tokara.co.za; dinner for two $80.