2018 Hermanos Hernaiz 'El Jardin de la Emperatriz’ Rioja Alta

88% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 2% Graciano, 1% Maturana Tinta

12 months in American (70%) and French (30%) oak barrels.


Exactly the style of Rioja that I look forward too. The higher terrain and precise blending of complimentary grape varieties, produce a fresher, elegant wine, increasing the more-ish quality.

No heaviness, just savoury richness, clean finish and the cool anticipation of the next sip, powdery fine tannin to activate the salivary glands. 

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The estate, Finca La Emperatriz

The estate in Baños de Rioja was once the property of the wife of Napoleon III, Eugenia de Montijo, and who was, even in the 1900’s, known to be making high quality wines here. She was the daughter of the 13th XIII duke of Peñaranda, count of Montijo and Teba as well as “grande de España”. Despite the weight of heritage, Eugenia was an early defender of equality for women and a supporter of the arts. 

The estate was acquired by the Hernáiz family in the late 1990’s and has been undergoing restoration and modernisation, including more recently, a large solar energy project that currently provides 26% of the estates electricity needs. 

Grape varieties:

Tempranillo (88%) dominates the blend providing the trademark character of the wine, easy-going, laid back appeal; a variety with a tendency to move swiftly towards secondary and tertiary characteristics. Here we detect the fine qualities of spice, structure and richness, accentuated by the blend and oak ageing.

Garnacha (9%) helps emphasise the defining savoury quality and adds a boost to the body and texture of the wine. Garnacha is a drought resistant variety that is finding increased popularity in a climate impacted world. 

Graciano (2%) is known for its drought resistant properties, as well as preference for cooler sites. Used widely in Rioja pre-phelloxara, Graciano lends fresh and aromatic character to the blend. 

Interesting to see Maturana Tinta (1%) in the mix. This variety is also known in Portugal and Galicia as Bastardo and offers structure and vigour to the blend. The tiny addition here may be what gives the powdery fineness to the tannin, contrasting beautifully with the fleshy Garnacha.

Availability via Wine Searcher or in the UK from Christopher Keiller Fine Wine Services (£95.63 for 6x75cl)

Muy bueno!

Nick Breeze

COPOUT Book by Nick Breeze

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Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces. 


As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.



Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!


Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


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