Imagine drinking a masterpiece that has been crafted over years, the grapes having been hand picked more than 30 years ago in amongst Spain’s beautiful terroir. Well i left my imagining on the doorstep last night when i got to crack into a bottle of Marqes de Murrieta Castillo Ygay 1978. This little beauty is a Gran Reserva Especial Rioja that has spent 216 months in american oak barrels – that’s 18 years! I really don’t think i could ever make it as a winemaker, i am much to impatient – though i can tell you that the patience definitely paid off in this case.
The blend consists predominately of your typical Rioja grape – Tempranillo with the remaining 25% consisting of Mazuelo, Garnacha Tinta and Graciao. As the harvest and ripening season in 78 proved to be somewhat outstanding, Marqes de Murrieta were able to produce a small quantity (1,250 cases) of this rare and exciting elixir.
Now for the bit you have all been waiting for – this is definitely not a wine to decant, just pour into your glass and drink to get the very best from it otherwise it may die out before you get to the end of the bottle. The colour shows sure signs of ageing from the rim, coming into a red amber brick colour. The delicate nose is enticing, full of sweet cherries and strawberries with perhaps some sweet spices tangled in there and a touch of smoke and vanilla from the oak. As soon as the liquid hits your palate you feel rather let down until it reaches your mid-palate where its voluptuous nature takes over, opening up new tastes throughout the whole process right up until the long finish. The notes on the palate reflect those on the nose as well as some asian spices kicking in at the back and hints of leather. The tannins have melted away into a nearly decadent touch of sweetness though with a good balance of acidity i can still see a few more years in this one.
Selling at approximately US$150 this is a wine you cannot pass up, it is well worth the money if not more for something of such a high standard.