On the Trail

On the Trail at Marques Murrieta

Joe Manekin

Originally founded in 1852, Marqués de Murrieta is the oldest bodega in Rioja. I am lucky to have visited the property twice, most recently this past September, and each time I gain an even greater appreciation for what this bodega manages to consistently deliver: a portfolio of wines that are stylish yet not stylized, traditional yet not old-fashioned, and most importantly, the wines are all great values. Surrounded by over 700 beautiful acres featuring soils ranging from chalky clay to very stony alluvial parcels, the bodega not only scales nicely, but also boasts some of the greatest terroir in all Rioja. They are one of the few to follow the Bordeaux model of a Chateau surrounded by vines on one large, contiguous piece of land. Marqués de Murrieta’s most important wine, their entry level Reserva that we are featuring, typically ages at least four years, which is almost the amount of time required of a Gran Reserva.

It is not a small production at 1,000,000 bottles, but believe me, the wine is so consistent, so successful both in Spain and in their export markets, that we will likely have the 2012 in stock for only a small portion of this year. Thanks to the leadership of Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga and the winemaking chops of María Vargas, along with the excellent terroir and impressive stewardship of their brand, at 165 years of age Marqués de Murrieta seems to be just hitting their stride, without showing any signs of slowing down. 

While we certainly have come to expect increasingly great wines from the venerable Marqués de Murrieta (their 2010 Reserva was one of our best selling wines of 2016) this 2012 maybe even tops that great wine. On the nose, rich cherry compote, red fruits, saddle leather, sweet spices and hints of new oak and cedar, combine for a classic Murrieta profile. Flavors of fresh and firm, bright fruits are more poised and bright than even the beautiful nose suggests—this must be the Mazuelo and Garnacha talking! Fantastic Rioja to buy/hold, buy and drink, or ideally, to buy/drink/hold! I would load up on this one. Despite the production volume, this wine never lasts nearly as long as we would like. It invites quick and bold decision making, but it's worth it.

-Joe Manekin