100 point wine from Spain is a White! 1986 Marqués de Murrieta : Castillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial by Robert Parker

ygay-blanco-1986For the first time ever a white wine from Spain has been rated 100 points by serious US wine press.  Robert Parker wine reviewer Luis Gutiérrez scored the 1986 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Blanco 100 points in an August issue of the Wine Advocate.  Gutiérrez had tasted the wine before, which was partly bottled and released in 1992. Since then he points out that the remaining wine was kept in oak barrels for 21 years!  Then kept in a concrete tank for 6 years.  How incredible to be lively, fresh, focused, and not oxidized after so much time.  What an accomplishment for the Spanish wine industry as a whole, and of course for Marqués de Murrieta.  It is also a great reminder of Spain’s great white wines that are ascending in quality.  At such a high price per bottle, it is too bad few if any of us will ever get to taste it.

This wine comes from the Finca Ygay, an estate of Marqués de Murrieta in Rioja Alta.  At Finca Ygay, the grapes are from the Capellanía vineyard, which according to their site was planted in 1945 and which is located at the highest point of their estate.  It is 97% Viura and 3% Malvasía.

logoRobert Parker Wine Advocate  robertparker.com
The Wine Advocate issue 226, August 30, 2106
Reviewer Luis Gutiérrez

1986 Marqués de MurrietaCastillo Ygay Blanco Gran Reserva Especial

100 points.  Price $649.  Full review, “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.

Yes, I’m afraid, the price quoted here seems to be correct (but not adequate), but this otherworldly white 1986 has been priced in the stratosphere. Unfortunately, the speculative price tag makes me very angry, but price does not affect the score. The wine is simply stunning. The only issue here is the price tag, to which I can only say that when I went to taste the wine, I also took the opportunity to cancel an order I had previously put in for one case of this wine. At this price, I won’t be buying. What a shame.

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! But looking at the ‘new’ white and new Rosé, you’d probably think prices are getting crazy. At least that’s what I did.


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