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We did a Teams virtual tasting with Eduardo Hernáiz and Diana Pérez from Finca La Emperatriz and Robert Hunter from Vinergia – them in their winery in Rioja, us in rainy London…
Winemaker and Owner Eduardo Hernáiz tasted with us through their excellent range but also gave us an update on 2020 – what a year! Not just because of Covid-19 but also a particularly difficult year for Rioja and Finca La Emperatriz.
2020 – A difficult year
A lot of problems, a lot of rain in the spring (about 200 mms per month). They suffered from mildew and had to do a lot of treatments to remedy it. Flowering was also without its problems…cold weather with very cold rain, they lost flowers and they had fewer berries on the bunches.
Subsequently they lost about 15% to 20% of their crop. It is their shortest yield ever.
With their old vines, they are below 30hl per ha and with their younger vines (about 20 years old) their yield is at approx 35hl/ha – it is usually about 45hl/ha.
Upwards and onwards….
But not all is lost as 2020 is looking like an incredible vintage!! The quality is outstanding!
The mildew stopped from July, the weather became really warm. Beginning of September was very warm and by the end of the month it was cold. Conditions were perfect! Ripeness, very good tannins… a lot of sexy colours in the tanks!!
Link to all their wines here
El Jardin De La Emperatriz Blanco 2019 – Second wine
100% Viura – 4 plots of Viura (60 years old – 1 plot is 5 years old)
Stainless/concrete tanks. 3 months on lees then bottled. 40,000 to 60,000 bottles produced.
Fruity and floral aromas of Viura. No oak. Fresh and creamy with a lovely minerality.
People in Spain get bored with the widely available variety Verdejo so this is a fantastic alternative choice.
More details here
El Jardin De La Emperatriz Tinto 2017 – Second wine
Voted Best Crianza in Rioja by Robert Parker! 91 Points
Very cold area. Coldest in Rioja at 600m altitude. Similar to Burgundy than Bordeaux. Mineral and poor soil with lots of white pebbles. Perfect soil!
A blend of different plots and varieties – 90% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 2% Graciano, 2% Viura and 1% Maturana Tinta (a local grape that in used in very small quantities – a bit like a rustic Cabernet Franc).
Stainless/concrete tanks. Malolatic followed by 12 months in oak. 70% American and 30% French oak.
Production between 140,000 and 200,000 bottles.
Fruity aromas, good minerality, creamy. A slight sensation of American oak but not obvious. Oak is not a tradition in Spain. The best producers in Rioja look for tradition with fruity and spicy aromas.
This wine will drink for 3 to 4 years but can keep up to 10 years.
More details here
“A very elegant and precise wine, lots of freshness and purity, typical of Rioja Alta but enhanced further by some clever wine making.
Aromas of spiced dark fruits with a touch of black pepper combined with very fine tannins right to the finish.
Delicious now but will be even better in 6 months’ time.” Thierry Morigeon
Finca La Emperatriz Gran Vino Blanco 2016 – Viñedo Singular
93 Parker Points
30ha of incredible old vines!
The Gran Vino White 2016 was made of 60-70 years old Viura vines, bush- trained at an altitude of 570 meters above sea level . 15000 bottles are produced on average annually and come from a single vineyard located in the highly praised Rioja Alta. Viñedo singular (single vineyard) was created in 2017. There are 200 hectares of Viñedo Singular in Rioja – 30 of these belong to Finca La Emperatriz.
The fermentation takes place in a combination of old and new oak while 50% of the must gets fermented in concrete tanks. The maturation process takes place in 225 litres barriques for 12 months and then gets a further 12 months in concrete tank .
Eduardo doesn’t like to oxydise his whites like some other Rioja producers do.
Powerful nose, more creamy and complex than El Jardin. More body and concentrated flavours. Aromas of dried flowers, spices, minerality. Still developing each day. Will keep for 20 years.
This wine is not best suited to seafood but will pair beautifully with vegetables and white meat.
“This white Rioja has never failed to impress me. Expressive on the nose, it displays a complex range of tertiary aromatics that reminded me of dried flowers and desiccated tangerines peel mixed with notes of fresh chamomile flowers and verbena. The palate is vibrant and energetic with a pleasant acid line that gives it a sense of purity but it is overall balanced by a suave finish.” Olivier Marie
More details here
Note on Vintage 2016: Until August, 2016 was a cold year, marked by a strong delay in the vineyard. During that period, the rainfall was 401 mm, mainly concentrated from January to April. From August on, temperatures rose considerably, being September especially warm. Throughout August, September and October rainfall was only 33mm, perfect to allow a smooth maturation. It was a very uneven vintage among old vineyards, with low fertility, and young vineyards that had a perfect and large fruit setting, which made green harvest necessary to control yields. Only old vines are used to elaborate this wine. Very late harvest
Finca La Emperatriz Gran Vino Tinto 2016 – Viñedo Singular
94 Parker Points
“The personality of our estate. We love this oldest style of Rioja. We want to keep the tradition”.
Gran Vino Tinto is produced from the oldest vines of the estate (around 60 years old on average).
The blend is 70% Tempranillo (from 2 plots), 28% Garnacha (1 plot) and 2% Viura.
The 3 varieties are macerated together in tanks, then fermented with indigenous yeast. Everything is done carefully and gently, by hand. After fermentation, the wine is aged in 225l Barriques (60% in New French and 40% in one and two years old American oak) for 16 to 18 months.
2016 was a cold vintage, with usual rainfall and a very hot summer. The harvest took place late and in very cold conditions (sometimes below 10 degrees) – So the result was few and small bunches, but of the highest quality.
40,000 bottles produced
It gives it the character of Rioja Alta. Good acidity and very long! The tannins need developing as it is still young. It is currently tasting well but in a year or 2 it will be perfect! .. the ageing potential for this wine is of 20 years or more.
“The colour is deep, dark. The nose is spicy, precise with a lovely blended touch of oak. The palate is clean, fresh yet bold with firm tannins, sweet spices, dark fruits, and a well-blended oak aroma.
Gran Vino Tinto 2016 is not about power or extraction, it aims to showcase amazing freshness, a beautiful balance between acidity and ripe fruits flavours and winemaking precision. Gran Vino 2016 is in my view the flagship of Finca la Emperatriz estate.” Christophe Jeandeau
More details here
We now have large formats of this wine! Shop here