Thursday, June 2, 2011

2005 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva & 2001 Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Spain

Marqués de Murrieta

Marqués de Murrieta is located in Logroño, the capital of Rioja, a city on the Ebro River roughly situated in the middle of the Rioja region, and part of the Rioja Alta.

Marqués de Murrieta is named after Luciano de Murrieta, one of the founding fathers of modern Rioja winemaking, who established the estate in 1852 in the world-renowned Rioja region of Spain. Today V. Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, Count of Creixell, leads the family-owned company.  

With a vision of innovation and respect for tradition, Marqués de Murrieta is rooted in strong, historical fundamentals that shape the vision and philosophy of this iconic Spanish brand. The winery is settled near the southern tip of the Rioja Alta in the middle of the beautiful “Ygay” Estate, a unique 300-hectare vineyard that guarantees complete control over the grape source of the wines and is the key to the quality and style of Marqués de Murrieta wines. 

The winery produces 5 wines available in the US market: Marqués de Murrieta Reserva, Capellanía White Reserva, Dalmau Reserva, Castillo Ygay and Pazo Barrantes Albariño.   

2005 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja Spain 
Suggested retail price $22-$25 
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines in the US 

The personality and style of Marqués de Murrieta’s vineyards located between 420 meters to 500 meters above sea level of the 741-acre (300-hectare) Ygay Estate are expressed in a single wine: Marqués de Murrieta Reserva.  

Made from 84% Tempranillo, 13% Garnacha and 3% Mazuelo, this wine embodies ripe fruit qualities with a perfect balance of acidity and supple roundness on the palate, and a hint of new oak. It is a traditional Rioja with the classic Murrieta signature and enjoys all the benefits of modern winemaking philosophy, equipment and techniques. 

During harvest, which began September 16 and ended October 9, the grapes were picked manually and carried to the winery in small quantities. The grapes were first de-stemmed and then fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for eight to 11 days with constant skin contact at 25º C. During fermentation the wine was both pumped over the cap of grape skins at the top of the tank (remontage) and the cap was pressed into the fermenting wine every second day (pigeage). Both those processes ensured maximum color and aroma without producing excessive tannin. Afterwards the solid parts of the grapes were pressed in vertical wooden presses with double screws. That process is a smooth and slow treatment that favors the extraction of the color and tannins that reside in the skin of the grapes. The resulting wine was then aged for 22 months in 225-liters oak barrels and spent about a year in bottle before release. 

Although slightly tighter and less complex, in my opinion, than the 2004 vintage, which was a great vintage in Rioja like 2001, the 2005 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva is still a remarkable example of quality Rioja. Rich, opulent, oaky, young, earthy, balanced and attractive, the 2005 vintage possesses a good core of ripe fruit, focused acidity and an excellent tannic structure, which should confer to this wine great ageing potential. However, if you cannot wait, make sure to decant it at least 45 minutes before serving it. Pair it with grilled lamb and other red meats; it needs something substantial to chew on. Love it.            

2001 Marqués de Murrieta “Castillo Ygay” Reserva Especial Rioja Spain  
Suggested retail price $47-$55  
Imported by Maisons Marques et Domaines in the US 

Marqués de Murrieta has been making classic style Rioja wines since 1852 and continues to be one of the leading wineries of this region. Their most distinguished wine, Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial is always a complex and elegant classic. Only the finest vintages from the 741-acre (300-hectare) Ygay Estate are used to make Castillo Ygay. Limited in production and sought after all over the world, and easily recognizable with the emblematic Castillo Ygay label, this wine is surely one of the best young Rioja wines that I tasted recently.   

This Gran Reserva Especial is made from 93% Tempranillo and 7% Mazuelo from vineyards located at 500 meters above sea level with great exposure. During the harvest, which took place October 6 to 10, the grapes were harvested by hand and immediately taken to the winery. The grapes were first carefully de-stemmed and squeezed and then fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 11 to 15 days with daily remontage and pigeage processes to help develop the wine’s personality. Both these processes ensured maximum color and aroma without producing excessive tannin. Then the wine was aged for 31 months in 225-liter American oak barrels and spent another 14 months resting in the bottle before release. 

From the excellent 2001 vintage in Rioja, "Castillo Ygay", a Reserva Especial cuvée made in a Gran Reserva style, is dense and smooth, complex, rich, balanced and very subtle. Ripe red cherry, oak, spice, forest floor and floral aromas resume the nose. On the palate, it expresses flavors of dark berry and red cherry intermingled with hints of spice, earth and cider oak with integrated vanilla oak touch. The elegant mid-palate has a great acidity elevating the juiciness of the fruit and carrying it until the long-lasting dry finish. Very young yet expressive and approachable with great tannic structure and a lot ageing potential, it is a keeper. Highly recommended.  

One of my personal Rioja favorites, with Lopez de Heredia, CVNE, Muga, Sierra Cantabria, San Vicente, Marqués de Riscal, Bodegas Riojanas, La Rioja Alta, Remirez de Ganuza, El Coto and a few more.


LeDom du Vin

Most info taken and slightly edited from the importer website at Maisons Marques et Domaines (, for more info go to the official website of the winery at

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