Part of the Rioja group Barón de Ley, the parent company is listed in the stock market and incorporates El Coto, one of the largest wineries in the Denomination, as well as Finca Museum in Cigales and Bodegas Máximo, which produces table wines and single varietal bottlings under the VT Castilla category. The group's president, Eduardo Santos-Ruiz, is the main shareholder and controls almost 40% of the stock.
Barón de Ley is located in Mendavia, within the yet undiscovered Navarra part of the DOCa Rioja. Founded in 1985 with the idea of creating a château-style winery, Finca Imas includes 90 hectares of vineyards and a 16th century Benedictine monastery which was completely restored and now houses the group's corporate headquarters. The first bottlings of Reserva and Gran Reserva dominated the range and were launched in the early 1990s. Nowadays, out of the four million bottles produced by the group, two and a half million have a Reserva label and 400,000 are Gran Reserva.
With the arrival of the new millenium, the group's policy focused on the purchase and plantings of over 400 hectares of new vineyards, which comfortably cover the needs of Barón de Ley. The Carboneras vines, in the Ocón valley (Tudelilla), lie at 850 metres above sea level, offering a fresh character that is welcomed at the Mediterranean latitude where Barón de Ley is based. Minor varieties and white grapes are two strong points, with over 250 new hectares set to tap into the potential of Rioja whites. The new single varietal range -all retailing at around 10€ and with productions between 20,000 and 40,000 bottles for Barón de Ley Graciano- includes a balsamic, juicy Tempranillo grown at over 800 metres of altitude; a serious and balanced Graciano; a perfumed balsamic red Garnacha grown from French clones; a white Garnacha displaying herbs and white fruit aromas; and a Maturana, which highlights the powerful colour, concentration and structure of this grape set to have a great future in the Denomination, specially for its ability to combine power with soft tannins.
That might be the reason behind the change of Barón de Ley Reserva (€9 in Spain) after the 2010 vintage, which included Maturana (7-10%) and Graciano (5-6%) in the blend, increasing fruit consistency and depth. Barón de Ley Reserva (€17) and premium Finca Monasterio (€19) with its unmistakeable and flashy gold metal label, comes from the first vineyards planted around the monastery and features Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, a variety which is “experimental” in the DOCa Rioja. This wine has an interesting bottle evolution, with a good potential for 8-10 years.
Other developings within the creative euphoria that has swept the winery in recent years are a barrel-fermented white wine made from Viura, Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca called Tres Viñas, and the unusual and deep 2007 vintage of Siete Viñas Red, made from all the traditional Rioja varieties. Tempranillo ferments with the whites Viura, Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca whereas Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha do it separately. These new wines have been designed under the oenologic guidance of Gonzalo Rodríguez, who has been a consultant at Barón de Ley since early 2000.