Marques de Murrieta takes pride of place in the pantheon of great Spanish wine and was one of two main pioneers in the production of Rioja. The Bodega was established in 1852 and produces a small but prodigious range that includes the eponymously named Marques de Murrieta and the truly great Castillo Ygay, which we are delighted to offer allocations of today.
Marques de Murrieta was the first estate to fashion a Bordeaux style cuvee in Spain, through the monumental formation of ‘Chateau Ygay’. This helped begin the Spanish Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva tradition of long maturation in large oak casks. This dialectical progression has seen the Estate originally as an innovator, yet now signifies the establishment of an archetypal institution. However, Ygay will never be solely axiomatic of Rioja as they continue to fashion the contemporary with tradition in a stylised Rioja that embraces custom, exalts terroir, yet preserves the vibrancy of Tempranillo, the genesis of this vision is Castillo Ygay: even the emblematic label reserves the old yet embraces the new.
Castillo de Ygay Grand Reserva Especial 2005 – £255 IB
Castillo Ygay heralds form a single Estate called La Plana; located 500 metres above sea level. The vines have an average age of 45 years with very low yields at around 1.8 tons per acre. The 2005 is a blend of 89% Tempranillo, 11% Mazuelo (Carinena), the latter can be a difficult grape but when grown correctly adds an acidic vibrancy that improves ageing potential. Since 2000 each parcel of wine is selected from specific plots, which marks another hint of modernity and marked change in the winery, one that has led to improved integration of oak and fruit precision in recent vintages.
The grapes are hand harvested, carefully de-stemmed and squeezed, thereon fermented in controlled stainless steel tanks for 11-15 days. Remontage, also known as pumping over, is one of the most aggressive techniques used to extract colour and tannin during fermentation. Grape must is drained from the bottom of the fermentation tank and pumped back over the top of the pomace cap. Pigeage, the French name for the punching down, is where wooden or stainless steel paddles are used to push down the pomace to gently extract colour and tannin. Both methods are practised to enhance the wines’ quality and ensure maximum colour and aroma extraction.
In 2005 the Tempranillo was harvested on September 30th and the Mazuelo October the 3rd and each was parcel fermented separately in stainless steel vats. After fermentation the Tempranillo was aged in Amercian (225 litre) oak barrels while the Mazuelo matured in French (225 litre) barrel, both for 30 months. After this the wines mature in bottle for an additional two years before it is released to market.
Castillo Ygay only declares a vintage in the very best years and has been made 12 times since 1934. The 2005 is unquestionably one of their greatest vintages, scoring 96 points from the Wine Advocate. This places it as its fourth highest score, only 1 point behind the 97 point scoring 1934, 42 and 52, which today, all start at £400 a bottle. The 2005 also trumps their legendary 2001 vintage and the superb 2004. Each declared vintage is produced in limited quantities, 8,300 cases and is sought after the world over.
The wine is known for its wonderful complexity and fruit precision, displaying roasted flavours, plum, aromatic liquor notes, Spanish dried fruit, Asian spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, with high notes of lavender with a underlying integrity of minerality. With age (and this can be up to 50 years) Castillo Ygay can still display vibrant notes of cigar box, incense and our personal favourite truffles.
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate – 96 points, tasted Dec 2013
“The 2005 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, a classic among classics, is back in top form with the excellent 2005 vintage. It’s extremely backward and tight, showing very young, with a balanced nose between spice, tertiary and cherry fruit aromas. It’s a powerful, still young vintage, with plenty of glycerin, body, round tannins. An austere wine (is it the Mazuelo?), it is complex and ever-changing in the palate. It has a sense of harmony that only the best wines have. Very long and elegant. I loved its serious and austere overall feeling. 100,000 bottles produced. This is a true vin de garde which develops complex notes of violet and meat with time in the glass. This is a Gran Reserva greatly marked by the Mazuelo, which should give it great ability to age. At this quality level it represents very good value. Drink 2014-2030.”
Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast – 95 points, tasted Dec 2013
“Superb at every checkpoint, this is a world-class wine. Cherry, cassis and earth aromas are spicy and mellow, not bullish or loud. This feels creamy but with enough textural grit to keep things lively, while flavors of vanilla, tobacco and plum are nicely integrated. A mild, medium-long finish epitomizes elegance. Drink now through 2025.”
Marques de Murrieta Tinto Gran Reserva 2005 – £110 IB
We also have the Marques de Murieta Tinto Gran Reserva 2005 available for £100 in bond for six bottles. The Gran Reserva reflects the elegance and complexity of the Ygay, aged for 26 months in American oak and 36 months in bottle before release. It offers elegance and longevity, with intense cherry and a commanding nose; seductive, perfumed with a defined muscularity of dark red fruit cigar box and mushrooms. It will never be as great as the world beating Ygay, yet as its younger sibling it is a veritable everyday drinker; while the extraordinary Ygay broods and improves in bottle waiting for a special occasion.
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