Finca La Emperatriz -The Empress’s Estate- is an historic vineyard in Baños de Rioja that once belonged to the last Empress of France, Eugenia de Montijo.
12 km from Haro, nestled between the Sierra de Cantabria and Sierra de la Demanda mountain ranges, Finca La Emperatriz is located in the north western end of the Rioja DOC, at 570 m above sea level in one of the highest plateaux in the Rioja Alta.
In 1996, the Hernáiz family purchased that same estate, and brothers Eduardo and Victor Hernáiz took charge of a project aimed at producing quality wines.
Part of the vineyard, the older vines, is officially classified in Rioja as a “Viñedo Singular”, a new system in Rioja since 2017, which is the equivalent to the Cru system in France to identify and protect outstanding pieces of vineyard. Of just 200 Ha in the whole of Rioja, Finca la Emperatriz accounts for 35 Ha., all in one piece.
The soil of Finca La Emperatriz is unique in La Rioja. A poor, extremely hard soil, which provides the wines with a distinctive elegance and minerality and great ageing potential.
92% Tempranillo, 6% Garnacha, 2% Graciano.
Vineyard & Vinification Note
Region D.O.Ca Rioja, Rioja Alta.
Terroir Impressive terroir with a layer of large white pebbles to a depth of about 40 cm, covering a loose, sandy sub-soil. An ideal soil to grow vines, as it has excellent drainage, plenty of light and the roots are well placed to receive all the nutrients they require. The wines produced from this type of soil are fine and elegant.
Vineyard Trellised vines with an average age of 25 years. With the same type of soil, gravel and pebbles on surface. At 570 meters altitude.
Yields of 6,400 kg/ha (41,60 hl/ha)
Harvest Hand-harvested, between the 10th and 18th of October.
Wine-making: Indigenous yeasts are used in half of the tanks. MLF in steel and concrete vats. The wine goes into barrels in March.
Ageing 12 months in American (70%) and French (30%) oak barrels.
2019 Harvest: A generally stable wine-growing year, with accumulated temperatures that can be considered average for the region and annual rainfall of 440 mm. The most important episode took place in August, when a hailstorm slightly and unevenly affected some plots at Finca La Emperatriz. This had no influence whatsoever in terms of health, but it did have an impact on the quantity of grapes, preventing them from developing uniformly. Less vigorous vines allowed the growth of less compact bunches and smaller grapes, key conditions for maximum quality. The summer was dry and sunny, allowing optimal ripening and an impeccable vineyard’s vegetative state. The harvest arrived with perfect weather conditions, being shorter than in previous years, due to the smaller quantity of grapes -a generalized situation in all the Rioja D.O.Ca and other nearby D.O.’s-.
In short, an exemplary vintage, with a low harvest, of extraordinary quality, and possibly memorable in Rioja.
James Suckling Tasting Note
Berries, plums and licorice spices lead to a crunchy palate with a full swing of chalky tannins and juicy red berries. Fruity, yet linear and tight. Give it a few months to settle and integrate more. Try from 2023. 90 Points, September 2022
Wine Advocate Tasting Note
The more harmonious and drinkable of the reds I tasted is the 2019 El Jardín de la Emperatriz Tinto, the second estate vin in the Bordeaux sense. It has an attractive nose of wild berries, herbs and spices with integrated oak despite the palate showing more tannins that would welcome more time and/or powerful food. It’s clean and modern, with 14.1% alcohol. 133,000 bottles and 8,000 magnums produced. It was bottled in January 2022. 91 Points, Luis Gutiérrez, July 2022
A great partner to pork, red pepper dishes, lamb and of course tapas.