The recently departed King of Spain, Juan Carlos, has officially opened a tasting and restaurant complex that is served by a 70,000-bottle wine cellar in the newly rebuilt Castillo Ygay at Rioja estate Marques de Murrieta.

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HRM Don Juan Carlos re-opens Castillo Ygay at Marques de Murrieta. Image credit: Marques de Murrieta.

His Royal Majesty Don Juan Carlos
inaugurated the rebuilt Castillo Ygay late last month, touring its 19th Century cellars, as well as its new tasting and function rooms, museum – including a historic labels collection – and its restaurant overseen by chef Mariano Pascual.

Top wine estates around the world have spent the past few years upgrading tasting and dining facilities to attract greater numbers of tourists.

It has taken almost a decade for Marques de Murrieta to complete the renovation of its centrepiece building, Castillo Ygay. Around 6,000 tonnes of stone were used to rebuild the castle. Only the original wine cellars were left untouched.

The work was part of a €20m upgrade project covering all aspects of the 162-year-old Rioja estate, including winemaking, and instigated by its current owner, Vicente Cebrian-Sagarriga.

During his tour, HRM Juan Carlos – who’s full name is Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon-Dos Sicilias – toasted the renovation with a glass of Castillo Ygay 1938, the year of his birth.

‘It has been a long time since I felt as good as I’ve felt today,’ said the royal, who set a precedent in modern Spain in June by abdicating to allow his son to be crowned king.

Vintages in the 70,000-bottle Castillo Ygay cellar date back to the estate’s birth in 1852, a spokesperson for the winery told Decanter.com.

The completed renovation of Castillo Ygay last month saw Marques de Murrieta win a Best of Wine Tourism award from the Bilbao/Rioja division of the Great Wine Capitals network, which seeks to promote tourism in some of the world’s best-known wine regions.

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Written by Chris Mercer