- Marquès de Murriet
- Tempranillo / Mazuelo / Graciano
- Case size
Marquès de Murriet
Established in 1852, Murrieta are one of the oldest and most respected bodegas of Rioja. Their wines are made in a "classic" Rioja style and receive long ageing in barrel before release. Their wines are concentrated and long-lived, both red and white, and some - like the Gran Reserva "Castillo Ygay" - have become legendary amongst Rioja-lovers. Marqués de Murrieta have not stood back and stagnated however: Their 300 hectare estate now has Cabernet Sauvignon planted for their Dalmau blend which represents Murrieta's avante-garde expression of Riojan terroir. There is also asmall estate in Galícia called Pazo Barrantes which produces top quality Albariño.
By the far the best known of Spain's wine regions is Rioja, which takes its name from the rio(river) Oja, a tributary of the river Ebro. Lying in the north of the country, along the Ebro valley, the area is sheltered from rain-bearing Atlantic winds by the dramatic Sierra de Cantabria to the north and west. The hilly vineyards are interspersed with orchards, poplars and eucalyptus trees. Rioja is further divided into three sub-regions - Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. The first two are best regarded, with vines planted on cool slopes with clay and limestone soils. The permitted grape varieties for Rioja are tempranillo, which is grown extensively in Rioja Alta and Alavesa and will form the backbone of all the best wines, garnacha, widespread in Rioja Baja and used to add body to the blend, and mazuelo (carignan) and graciano, both grown in miniscule proportions. The key to understanding Rioja is the technique used to mature the wine. Unlike most other areas of Europe, American oak barrels are used which give the wines their characteristic soft vanilla, almost coconuty flavour. Historically the wines were aged for periods far longer than legally required, until all the fruit character had died down and the end result was a light, tawny-coloured wine dominated by oak flavours. Although there are still supporters of this classic style, far more producers are making wines in a more modern way, allowing the dark berry fruit flavours to burst through balanced by a more judicious use of oak ageing and often opting for French oak now.