With all that is going on, and since so many places have been shut down, if I can I try to make it a point to stop at my local wine shop to help in my small way at The Fine Wine Shop. As a former retailer I enjoy seeing the moxie that is required to survive, not from bad business judgement, but from a government intent on crushing all small businesses. Somehow, I have to feel that there are more germs in a Walmart with hordes of shoppers then there is in a small business that is grateful for every customer that opens the door. As it is, I find that I tend to do all of my errands in one day, and I have probably been experiencing at least one month per tankful of gas, the best mileage in my history of driving. I also try to make the wine shop the last stop on my circuit, so I am not rushed, and if they need to close early for a delivery, I can definitely understand. There is also a chance of having a private wine tasting, usually by appointment, so that “social distancing” is honored.
I had a chance to taste a couple of Rioja wines from Spain and both by Marqués de Murrier. Marqués de Murrier Rioja Reserva 2015 and has its fruit from the famed Finca Ygay vineyard of the winery and they are located in Rioja Alta. There are three sub-regions of Rioja and Rioja Alta tends to be the region that is often named, and it refers to the elevation of this region compared to the other two sub-regions. The winery was founded in 1852 by Luciano de Murrieta and since 1983 it has been owned by the Cebrian-Sagarriga family. When the winery was being built it was found to be part of Rioja Baja (lower elevation), but it makes the region sound inferior and Rioja Baja is now Rioja Oriental; they had enough clout to have the boundary moved, so that the winery was in Rioja Alta and today it is in its own enclave of La Rioja Alta. The wine is a blend of eighty percent Tempranillo, twelve percent Graciano, six percent Mazuelo and two percent Garnacha. The fruit is manually harvested and destemmed and spends eight days in Stainless Steel fermenting on the skins. It then spends eighteen months in American Oak and then it ages another eighteen months in the bottle, before it is released. I am partial and biased from the get-go about wines from Rioja and this wine offered everything it was supposed to, especially strong with notes of red fruits and pepper.
I would have been perfectly happy enjoying the Rioja Reserva but then I had the Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2009. This wine is not made every vintage and the fruit comes the single vineyard La Plana, planted in 1950 and is on a plateau which is the highest point of the Finca Ygay vineyard on the estate. This wine is a blend of eighty-one percent Tempranillo and nineteen percent Mazuelo. After manual harvesting, destemming and gentle crushing the wine spends eleven days fermenting in Stainless Steel with constant attention during this period. The wine is then aged for twenty-six months in a mix of American and French Oak, then followed up with thirty-six months of aging in the bottle before release. It is amazing how beautifully balance, lush and satiny this wine is, the red fruit is so much more complex with traces of truffles in the mix. It was just awe-inspiring the difference between the two Rioja wines, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the first wine, and it makes me appreciate how my Bride will sometime demur from tasting the elite wines, as she doesn’t want to lose her appreciation for all the other great wines that she already enjoys.