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Marqués de Murrieta

Rioja since 1852

Established in 1852 by Luciano Francisco Ramón de Murrieta, this historic bodega was the first of the famous Rioja houses to be established and is still in existence today. As the original visionary and pioneer of the Rioja region, Luciano was made Marqués de Murrieta by Queen Isabel II. After the death of the Marqués in 1911, the bodega was taken over by the Olivares family and then in 1983 by D. Vicente Cebrián-Sagarriga, Count of Creixell. The new owner’s aim was to establish Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta among the best wineries in the world. His sudden death in 1996 left the vision only partly fulfilled. The baton was passed onto his son Vicente Dalmau who proceeded to revolutionise the entire estate, investing significantly in the vineyards and winery to take the bodega into the 21st century. The emphasis now is very much quality focused, with low yields in the vineyard and limited production in the winery. Truly hand-made, world-class wines from the oldest family owned estate in Rioja.

On the southern limit of the Rioja Alta, just a few kilometres from Logroño, we find a unique and privileged winery on the Ygay estate. It is built in the middle of 300 hectares of its own vineyards, guaranteeing complete control over the grapes. Within the Ygay estate all the traditional grape varieties are still grown; Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo, Garnacha and Viura. The vineyards are divided into many subplots including single vineyards; ‘Capellanía’ planted with Viura (from 2004 vintage aged in 100% French oak), ‘Dalmau’ which contains old vine Cabernet Sauvignon, and up on ‘La Plana’, at 500 metres above sea level, we find the source of the Gran Reserva Castillo Ygay.

Tradition and modernity appear side by side with the presence of two old vertical wooden presses alongside stainless steel tanks, an automatic ‘pigeage’ machine and a state-of-the-art bottling line. The aim of the winery team is to preserve the traditional characteristics that are associated with Murrieta, whilst using modern techniques to enhance quality, fruit and aromatics. New 225 litre, mainly American oak barrels are purchased every year to supplement the very old barrels in which the Castillo Ygay is aged. The deliberate balance of old and new technologies ensures a unique style and quality for all the wines.

Like Vicente Dalmau, Maria Vargas, head winemaker, brings youth and modern ideas to the historic bodega. She continues to develop and evolve the ‘Murrieta’ signature style to the wines highlighting more of the natural fruit flavours, creating supple yet age-worthy red wines and fresher, aromatic whites.

The Count of Creixell is preparing the estate for the future with several landmark projects, including the renovation of the symbolic old Castillo which now incorporates a tasting room, restaurant and museum. Next, a new winery on the estate will ensure the quality of Murrieta’s future wines with new technologies, gravity fed levels and atmosphere controlled cellars for the critical ageing process.

Finally, the last project will be to construct guest lodges in and around the great estate so visitors can experience Murrieta to the full.

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Blanco Reserva 'Capellania' 2012 — Marqués de Murrieta

Blanco Reserva 'Capellania' 2012

Rioja Alta, Spain

100% Viura

Tasting note

Pale gold. Intense aroma of ripe golden fruit with smoke and almonds. The palate is dry and savoury with oak vanilla overlaid with golden fruit, and a lovely balancing freshness on the finish. A modern take on the traditional white Rioja style.

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Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial 1986 — Marqués de Murrieta

Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial 1986

Rioja Alta, Spain

97% Viura
3% Malvasia

Tasting note

“I have been terribly excited about this wine since I first learned that (part of) it was still in cement waiting to be bottled in September 2013. I consider the rare white Castillo Ygay one of the greatest white wines ever produced in Spain, and the 1986 Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial is a great addition to the portfolio of the winery–an historic wine that is coming back to life. I did a vertical tasting of many of the old, historic vintages of this wine, and they are included in a separate article in this very same issue. This 1986 had seen the light as a limited early release bottled in 1992 and sold around 1995, and some bottles might still be found in the market. But most of it remained unbottled and was kept at the winery, where it stayed in oak for 21 years, followed by some six years in cement vats until it was bottled. It has 13.5% alcohol, an extremely low pH of 2.98 and 6.75 grams of acidity (tartaric). It has a very subtle nose and it’s a bit shy, a little closed at first. It was only bottled one and a half years ago, and it’s not crazy to say that the wine is showing extremely young. The wine shows more open the day after, when it has developed some nuances of mushrooms and verbena tea. This is mostly Viura with perhaps a pinch of Malvasía Riojana (aka Alarije). The palate is both powerful and elegant, with superb acidity and great length, with volume and sharpness, with a mineral, umami-driven finish. It fills your mouth, tickles your taste buds and makes you salivate. There is nothing negative about the wine; there is no excess oak, nothing blurry, nothing to improve… perhaps the bottle used! I think this is a perfect wine. It seems to be getting younger and younger with time in the glass; it seems to be getting more focused and sharper, and I have no doubt the wine will evolve and last for a very, very, very long time in bottle. I kept the opened bottle for almost one week and the wine didn’t move one inch–no oxidation or any signs of fatigue. Having tasted many other vintages, including the also perfect 1919 (which is still going strong at age 97), I have no doubt we’re talking about a white for the next 50 years. Looking at the older vintages, I might even be underestimating its life span. The potential next release could be the 1998 in no less than ten years’ time.

There is something truly exceptional happening at Marqués de Murrieta: the rare white Castillo de Ygay is making a comeback! And nothing other than the 1986, a fully 30 years after the vintage!”

Luis Gutierrez

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Primer Rosé 2015 — Marqués de Murrieta

Primer Rosé 2015

Rioja Alta, Spain

100% Mazuelo

Tasting note

Light pink colour full of life and elegant. Fruity and fresh with an amazing complexity.

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Reserva 2013 — Marqués de Murrieta

Reserva 2013

Rioja Alta, Spain

77% Tempranillo
5% Mazuelo
8% Graciano
10% Garnacha

Tasting note

Flavours of ripe plum, red cherry and berries blend with spicy notes of licorice and sweet balsamic. The wine is silky and well balanced with rounded tannins and refreshing acidity. The long, mineral finish has notes of sweet spice and ripe plum fruit.

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Reserva 2012 — Marqués de Murrieta

Reserva 2012

Rioja Alta, Spain

77% Tempranillo
5% Mazuelo
8% Graciano
10% Garnacha

Tasting note

Spicy aromas lead to intense cherry, red berries, ripe plum, licorice, chopped nuts and balsamic. On the palate the wine is silky and balanced with rounded tannins and fresh acidity. The finish is long and mineral with a hint of sweet spice.

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Gran Reserva 2010 — Marqués de Murrieta

Gran Reserva 2010

Rioja Alta, Spain

90% Tempranillo
5% Mazuelo
3% Garnacha
2% Graciano

Tasting note

Dark intense red brick colour with a mature aroma of mellow red and dark fruits with hint of spicy oak. Full bodied and generous fruit softening as it matures. Lovely finish full of spicy fruit as it starts to soften and mature.

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Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2007 — Marqués de Murrieta

Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2007

Rioja Alta, Spain

86% Tempranillo
14% Mazuelo

Tasting note

Deep garnet colour. Restrained bouquet builds in the glass showing red fruits, leather and spice. On the palate it is full bodied with rounded ripe tannins. The flavour and texture given extra complexity and freshness by the Mazuelo. While it can be enjoyed now it will be a great vintage for long term maturing.

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Dalmau Reserva 2013 — Marqués de Murrieta

Dalmau Reserva 2013

Rioja Alta, Spain

71% Tempranillo
15% Cabernet Sauvignon
14% Graciano

Tasting note

Dalmau has a complex nose, with aromas of wild berries, cassis and dark chocolate, combined with creamy, spicy aromas following ageing in new French oak barrels. An elegant wine which impresses in every way, with body and harmony, of magnificent balance which creates a powerful wine.

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Dalmau Reserva 2012 — Marqués de Murrieta

Dalmau Reserva 2012

Rioja Alta, Spain

70% Tempranillo
15% Cabernet Sauvignon
15% Graciano

Tasting note

It has a complex and velvety nose, with an explosion of aromas of wild fruits, dark chocolate and mineral notes, elegantly combined with the creamy toasting of its ageing in the new French oak barrels. An elegant and extraordinary wine which impresses in every way, with body and harmony, of magnificent balance which creates a powerful wine.

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