1959 Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Rioja


Rioja has always held a special place in my heart. I started getting into wine seriously in my early 20s, when I waited tables in a number of Boston and Cambridge-area restaurants. There were no sommeliers back then, and that opened a lot of avenues for waiters to learn about wine. I discovered pretty early on that l liked reds with bottle age, but I could hardly afford any of the established heavy hitters of that time. Rioja was the happy exception, as the wines were very much under the radar. Any time I needed a wine with a bit of age for a special occasion, it was always Rioja. I was taken back to that time in my life once again when a friend opened Marqués de Murrieta’s stellar 1959 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial a few weeks ago. 

Upon opening, with just a quick decant, I am blown away by the wine’s depth and overall intensity. Bright red cherry, cedar, tobacco, sweet vanillin and incense are all so wonderfully alive, with bright acids playing off the natural intensity of the fruit. Sure, there is a bit of volatile acidity, but not enough to detract from the wine’s immense pleasure. Even though the market for Rioja has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years, older vintages still deliver exceptional value in the world of fine, ageworthy wine. Readers lucky enough to own the 1959 can look forward to another twenty years of magnificent drinking, maybe more. Longevity will ultimately be driven by the integrity of the cork, as the wine itself is basically eternal. 95/Drink 2020-2040.