Owned by Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III and the last Empress of France, Viñedos Hermanos Hernáiz is an estate with a noble and passionate heritage. Since 1996, the estate has been in the hands of two brothers named Eduardo and Victor Hernáiz. These brothers gave much more than just their name to the estate; they have nurtured it with their know-how and their family history, but also their ambition and their shared dreams. The colours, fragrances and flavours of these wines are depicted in this way: through vintages recognised for their elegance and minerality, they tell the story of a terroir and of family vineyards.
Finca la Empératriz Gran Vino Blanco 2016 is made from exceptional La Rioja terroirs, a Spanish region known for the quality of its wines. There, 50- to 65-year-old vines preside at 570 metres of altitude. The soils are covered with a coat of large white pebbles, which are rooted at up to 40cm before leaving room for a sandy subsoil. The excellent drainage and exposure are ideal for vine cultivation, offering very fine and elegant wines.
Finca La Emperatriz is the original name of a unique estate in Baños de Rioja, now owned by the Hernáiz family. The name comes from its original owner, former Empress of France Eugénia de Montijo. This Spanish noblewoman was the wife of Napoleon III, who created the “Cru” system in Bordeaux and who was already producing high quality wines during the second half of the 19th century. Their wines even earned them a medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878.
The 2016 vintage was a cold year until August, marked by significant delays in the vineyard. During this period of time, rainfall was heavy and mainly concentrated between January and April. Temperatures rose considerably from August and September, in particular, turned out to be very hot. In August, September and October, low levels of rainfall allowed for good ripening. The vintage was very uneven, with old vineyards with low fertility rates lying alongside young vineyards with perfect, voluminous fruit. Harvests were therefore necessary to control yields and only the old vines were used to produce this cru.
Winemaking and ageing
After the manual harvests, which took place between 18 and 20 September, the berries were sorted on a sorting table. Once destemmed, 40% of the grapes were crushed and fermented in concrete vats. The tempranillo, grenache and viura are harvested at the same time and macerated together in the cold for 5 days. Gentle pumping is carried out and native yeasts are used during fermentation. After 20 days, malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrels. The wine is then aged for 18 months in these same oak barrels, 60% of which are new and 40% in American barrels of two previous wines.