Finca la Emperatriz Parcela nº 1 2009

Producer: La Emperatriz
Wine Name: Parcela nº 1
Type: Red
Wine Region/ Appellation Rioja
Vintage: 2009
Grape varieties: 100% Tempranillo
Alcohol: 14%
Guide Price: 35 €

Our Rating: +++++^ (5+)

About the area

See previous post about Rioja

About the wine

La Emperatriz is a winery located in the very north-west of the region (Rioja Alta), and with 101 hectares in one single vineyard makes it the largest privately owned estate in the Rioja Alta region.

Its geography and stony terroir defines its special climate, wich produces elegant and complex wines with a very specific character. Three quarters of the total vineyard area, are planted with 50 year old vines.

The best grapes on the estate, from “Parcela” (Plot) nº 1, are set aside for this wine. This plot has an impressive soil, with a top layer of 40cm of large whitish pebbles over a loose, sandy sub-soil.

It takes 20 minutes to get the grapes from the vineyard to the winery. Once there, a further selection takes place to remove any leaves and individual grapes that are not absolutely perfect. The grapes are then fermented in different types of containers; wooden and stainless steel tanks and up-ended barrels.

The wine is then aged 18 months in fine-grained French oak barrels. The wine is neither fined nor stabilised before bottling.


Deep cherry and violet rim.

Redcurrant, red-fruits yogurt with lavender, smoke and a growing mineral bouquet. Complex, fresh, suggestive.

Firm and clear in the mouth. Medium-bodied. Dry and young but tasty tannins. Good acidity. Fresh, vibrant, intense and persistent.

Excelent Rioja to drink now, will be even better in a few years with lentil stew or suckling lamb. 


Dominio do Bibei Brancellao 2006

Producer: Dominio do Bibei
Wine Name: B+
Type: Red
Wine Region/ Appellation Ribeira Sacra
Vintage: 2006
Grape varieties: 100% Brancellao
Alcohol: 12,5%
Guide Price: 73 $

Our Rating: ++++++^ (6+)

About the area:

This wine region, located in inland Galicia, dates back to the Romans who excavated the many terraces that are still present.

It is believed that Ribeira Sacra (“Sacred Shore”) takes its name from the 18 monasteries and hermitages that were founded in the early Middle Age, between the 8th and 12th centuries and which are located in the remote river valleys. The monks from these monasteries replanted the vineyards for their own consumption and maintained the grape-growing and wine-producing tradition until modern times. 

Steep vineyards jut into the Sil river, and the terraces are usually very small, making it impossible to mechanise vineyard activities such as pruning and harvesting. Access is often very difficult and at times only possible through the river.

Made up of rocky slabs with little soil, these vineyard sites are primarily planted with Mencia, but another varieties such as Brancellao or Merenzao for reds, and Godello, Treixadura, Dona Blanca and Albariño for whites are also approved as part of the Denomination.

The river’s influence is noticeable on the wine for its cooling effect.

Dominio do Bibei is located in the Quiroga-Bibei sub-area of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. Like all Ribeira Sacra sub-areas, is one of spectacular mountain ranges and chasing rivers, although is drier and harsher than the others sub-areas.

About the wine:

Grapes come from an spectacular vineyard in Pinol (Sober) owned by José María Prieto.  Slate and schist soil, west orientation and over 300 m of altitude.

2006 was one of the driest years in the previous three decades. Rainfall in September allowed for ideal maturation of the grapes, that where harvested in optimal health.

Fermented with indigenous yeast in 500 Litre barrels. Aged on the lees 19 months in 500 Litre 3-year-old French oak barrels. Has been bottled unstabilized and unfiltered. Then aged 30 months in bottle.


Best left open for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

Medium deep red-colored, with fine and complex aromas. A little closed at first. It then opens with mineral, mature cherries, nutmeg, caramel, violet flowers and a soothing depth.

Fresh in the mouth, tasty, slight, delicate. Good acidity, medium-bodied but firm tannins. Vibrant black cherry and mineral flavours. Tangy, floral and long at the finish, leaving minerals, herbs and red fruit behind. So easy to drink, it makes you want to go for another glass.

Delicious. Superb.


Privat Nu 2008

Producer: Alta Alella
Wine Name: Privat Nu 
Type: Sparkling (White)
Wine Region/ Appellation: Cava
Vintage: 2008 
Grape varieties: 100% Xarel.lo (Pansa Blanca)
Alcohol: 12%
Guide Price: 20 €

Our Rating: +++++ (5)

About the area

Cava is Spanish sparkling wine of an appellation of “Denominación de Origen” (Appellation) status. Cava may be white or rosé. The Macabeo, parellada and xarel.lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties for producing cava, but only wines produced in the traditional method (méthode champenoise) may be labelled Cavas. 

Those produced by other processes may only be called vino espumoso de calidad (sparkling wines). About 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedés area in Catalonia, in the North-East of Spain.

Cavas are classified by sugar content, from Brut Nature (0-3 g per litre) to sweet (over 50 g of sugar per litre), and they are also classified by ageing, from the Cava (with at least 9 months of ageing) to the Cava Gran Reserva (with at least 30 months of ageing)

About the wine

Grapes are selected from a vineyard with sandy soil, south-west orientation and over 150 m of altitude.

The base wine is obtained from organic grapes of ecological agriculture with an excellent health, which then follow the traditional method (méthode champenoise). Aged a minimum of 15 months on lees and released without any dosage. No sulfites or other products are added in the whole process.


Best if opened for at least 30 minutes before tasting.

Light yellow and fine bubbles. It offers direct and intense aromas of lime, green apple and kiwi with hazelnuts and toasted bread.

Fresh in the mouth, vinous. Fine bubbles again, perfectly integrated. Sharp, good acidity. Tasty, citric, it makes you salivate.

A great cava with no reason to envy champagne. Will be great with oysters, smoked salmon or roast chicken.