The modern history of Rioja wines travels from Logrono, the principal town in La Rioja, to Bordeaux and back to Logrono’s Marques de Murrieta and its 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial.

Luciano Francisco Ramon de Murrieta was born in Peru in 1822, toward the end of the country’s rebellion against Spain. After Peru achieved independence two years later, the Murrietas migrated to London. In 1844, after service in the Spanish army, Murrieta moved to Logrono and began a life dedicated to making outstanding wine.

Taking note of the inferior quality of Rioja wines compared to the French wines he experienced in London, in 1848 Murrieta went to Bordeaux to learn winemaking. He returned four years later and began producing wines that earned him international awards, commercial success and the title Marques de Murrieta from Queen Isabel II. In 1878, he purchased the Ygay estate.

Murrieta died childless in 1911. His nephew Julian de Olivares inherited the winery and maintained its status until his death in 1977. The estate was purchased in 1983 by Count Vicente Cebrian Sagarriga and is currently under the direction of his son Vicente and daughter Christina.

The more than 700 acres of vineyards at Marques de Murrieta is planted primarily with tempranillo, Rioja’s primary red grape, plus other traditional red wine grapes mazuelo, garnacha and graciano. The Cebrian Sagarriga family added a plot of cabernet sauvignon.

Murrieta is renowned for its long aging process, and the 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial spent four years in new and used American oak barrels and four years in bottle before it was released to the market. This is three years longer than required by Rioja’s regulations for wines designated Gran Reserva. Its 1978 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial spent 18 years in barrel and 10 years in bottle before it was offered to the market. The 1982 vintage is still barrel aging in the cellars of Marquis de Murrieta. Its market debut is unknown.

The 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial is a blend of 93 percent tempranillo and 7 percent mazuelo from the best vineyard sites. It has a wonderful red berry and spice scent, and the long aging created a silky, luxurious texture for the rich, intense fruit flavors that please the palate.

Murrieta only produces Castillo Ygay wines in the great vintages, and 2001 was excellent in Rioja. Like a superb Bordeaux, the 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial can be aged 30 or more years in a proper cellar. Unlike Bordeaux, its greatness comes with an affordable price tag.

Pour the 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial with grilled lamb chops or a rack of lamb, roasted loin of pork, or braised short ribs.

The Marquis de Murrieta 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. It retails for approximately $52.