Located in Baños de Rioja, 12km from Haro at the northwestern end of the Denomination of Origin, this is a single vineyard project started by the Hernáiz family. The renowned estate, purchased in 1999, belonged to Eugenia de Montijo, the last empress of France and wife of Napoleon III. It was later passed onto the house of Alba.
The approximate 100 hectares of vineyards lie on a plateau at 570 metres above sea level and produce wines that are marked by the rocky character of the soils.
Entry level wines are moderate, balanced and offer good value for money, particularly the Crianza (€9 in Spain) and Reserva (€15). The main variety in both bottlings is Tempranillo, which represents over 90% of the blend, with small percentages of Garnacha, Graciano and white Viura. Aging is mostly done in American oak.
On a higher quality level we find the wines from specific plots in the estate. Terruño (€19) is made in the so-called “experimental plot”. A modern style, fruit-driven Tempranillo, it is aged in French oak barrels. Parcela Nº1 (around €37) aims for concentration and comes from old high-ripening Tempranillo vines from the vineyard where it takes in name. The range includes a barrel-fermented white, Finca La Emperatriz Viura Old Vines, and a very interesting Finca La Emperatriz Garnacha Old Vines, which offers the unusual chance to taste a Garnacha from this latitude. Its vines grow on pebble soils and the oak influence is softened with the use of 500-litre casks.