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.
76% Tempranillo, 22% Garnacha and 2% Viura.
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 50-65 years old bush vines. With the same type of soil, gravel and pebbles on surface. At 570 meters altitude.
Yields of 3,900 kg/ha (25,35 hl/ha).
Harvest Hand-harvested into 180 kg crates, between the 18th and the 20th October.
Wine-making Grape selection at the sorting table. 100% destemmed and 40% crushed. Grapes ferment in concrete tanks.
Tempranillo, Garnacha and Viura are harvested at once and vatted in the same tank, followed by a 5 days cold maceration. The wine fermented with indigenous yeasts and daily smooth pump-overs. After 20 days of post-fermentative maceration, it is devatted directly to barrel for MLF.
Ageing 14 months in barrels, 60% new French oak and 40% second-year American oak barrels.
2017 Harvest: “2017 was the Frost Vintage. In Finca La Emperatriz losses were close to 35%, considering many late sprouting bunches had to be removed not to affect quality. It was one of the warmest vintages that can be remembered (1,478 IW hours), with a very low rainfall of 381 mm. It was also the earliest vintage in the 20 years we have been working the estate’s vineyard. Although everyone will remember this year as catastrophic due to frost, we can say that, thanks to it there were very low yields that made vines (especially Tempranillo) “work” in optimal conditions, without defoliation due to excess heat and drought (which would have led to imperfect maturation). The few grapes that arrived at the winery did so with many more balanced parameters than those expected due to weather conditions.”
Only old vines are used to elaborate this wine.
Wine Advocate Tasting Note
I really liked the seriousness, restraint and balance of the 2017 Finca la Emperatriz Gran Vino Tinto, a blend of 76% Tempranillo, 22% Garnacha and 2% white Viura. It combines ripeness and power with elegance and subtleness. The wine feels too young, especially in the palate, with some tannins still to be resolved by some more time in bottle. It’s medium to full-bodied and has a dry, serious and long finish. This should evolve toward a quite classical expression of Rioja. 37,950 bottles and some larger formats produced. It was bottled in July 2019. 93 Points, Luis Gutiérrez, October 2020
James Suckling Tasting Note
Blackberries, dark cherries, chocolate, white lavender, cloves and smoked meat on the nose. Full-bodied with firm, polished tannins. Ripe and rich. Delicious, long finish. 70% tempranillo, 28% garnacha and 2% viura. Drink or hold. 93 Points, September 2021
Gui Peñin 93 Points
Guia Proensa 95 Points
A great wine to pair with many dishes. Great partner to lamb and beef, rich Spanish food and barbecues. Great with pork, chorizo, iberico and cheeses such as manchego, an aged gouda or mature cheddar.