This morning we are pleased to offer the Spanish powerhouse Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2010. Preceding releases from the other leading European regions that 2010 was outstanding across Europe, the greatest ever, well at least until 2016. It comes as no surprise therefore that the vintage has provided Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial the canvas on which to create their finest ever wine. The weather in 2010 was exceptional in Rioja, with no excessive weather, a vintage of balance leading to wholesale grape ripeness and quality, which exceeds 2009 and bouts with 2004 for long-term potential.
In 2010 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial has been awarded 99 points from James Suckling who describes it as having ‘marvelous aromas of crushed berries, tobacco, cedar and mushrooms. Some dried cheese. Then turns to flowers. Very complex. Full and intense with fantastic depth and power. It goes on for minutes. It is a wine that exudes tradition but gives a sense of modernity with precise winemaking.’ This is reiterated by Luis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate, who awards it 97 points and declares ‘This is one of the finest modern day vintages of Castillo Ygay. This is going to develop in the direction of the classical bottlings from yesteryear.’ The scores make it the finest modern vintage, matched only by the 1952, 1942 and 1934. These start at £500 a bottle, while the 2010, which will become a legendary wine costs £520 per case of six on release today.
Castillo Ygay only declares a vintage in the very best years and has been made 15 times since 1934. Marques de Murrieta takes pride of place in the pantheon of great Spanish wine and was one of two main pioneers in the production of Rioja. The Bodega was established in 1852 and produces a small but prodigious range that includes the eponymously named Marques de Murrieta and the truly great Castillo Ygay, which we are delighted to offer allocations of today.
Marques de Murrieta was the first Estate to fashion a Bordeaux style cuvee in Spain, through the monumental formation of ‘Chateau Ygay’. This helped begin the Spanish Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva tradition of long maturation in large oak casks. This dialectical progression has seen the Estate originally as an innovator, yet now signifies the establishment of an archetypal institution. However, Ygay will never be solely axiomatic of Rioja as they continue to fashion the contemporary with tradition in a stylised Rioja that embraces custom and exalts terroir, yet preserves the vibrancy of Tempranillo, the genesis of this vision is Castillo Ygay: even the emblematic label reserves the old yet embraces the new. Castillo Ygay heralds from a single Estate called La Plana; located 500 metres above sea level. The vines have an average age of 45 years with very low yields at around 1.8 tons per acre. The 2010 is a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Mazuelo (Carinena), the latter can be a difficult grape but when grown correctly adds an acidic vibrancy that improves ageing potential. Since 2000 each parcel of wine is selected from specific plots, which marks another hint of modernity and change in the winery, one that has led to improved integration of oak and fruit precision in recent vintages. The grapes come from a plot planted in 1966, representing vines with 50 yeas average age that grow 495 metres above sea level.
The grapes are hand harvested, carefully de-stemmed and squeezed, thereon fermented in controlled stainless-steel tanks for 11-15 days. Remontage, also known as pumping over, is one of the most aggressive techniques used to extract colour and tannin during fermentation. Grape must is drained from the bottom of the fermentation tank and pumped back over the top of the pomace cap. Pigeage, the French name for punching down, is where wooden or stainless steel paddles are used to push down the pomace to gently extract colour and tannin. Both methods are practised to enhance the wines’ quality and ensure maximum colour and aroma extraction.
The wine is known for its wonderful complexity and fruit precision, displaying roasted flavours, plum, aromatic liquor notes, Spanish dried fruit, Asian spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, with high notes of lavender with an underlying integrity of minerality. With age (and this can be up to 50 years) Castillo Ygay can still display vibrant notes of cigar box, incense and our personal favourite, truffles.