1986 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial Rioja (Elsewhere $700)
This is a triumph. An amazing white showing roasted pineapple, dried apple, flowers and hints of lemon curd on the nose. Hints of almonds, too. Full-body, closed and tight with amazing depth and beauty. Waxy, salty, and creamy. Goes on for minutes. 21 years in wood, seven in concrete and then about three years in bottle. First year since 1978. Viura with a hint of malvasia. I have the same mind-tingling sensation tasting this as tasting the 1963 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco. Another perfect wine.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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. (LG)
Depending on whom you ask, Marques de Murrieta is either the oldest, or second oldest continually operating bodega in Rioja. Their wines are fantastic across the board, from the Reserva bottling on up, but this Gran Reserva white is by far their most rare. Incredibly it is a current release wine at 30 years of age! The first 100 point review, a first for a Spanish white, caused quite a stir in Rioja this year. While we applaud the efforts of critics who must put pen to paper to describe this inimitable, long aged white, we will simply say that the wine is a true original, an experience all unto itself.