Baron de Ley Rioja is a relatively young winery, though it has a lot of history: The winery as we know it today was founded in 1985, but the historic estate, has roots that go all the way back to 1548!
Baron de Ley Rioja: Ancient history
The Baron de Ley Rioja winery is housed in an old monastery, first constructed in the year 1548 by the Count of Eguía. It was to be the count’s stronghold, both castle and fortress in what was something of a complicated time in the region – the count would routinely find himself bothered by military forces, all the more reason for him to build such a forceful structure.
As the years went on and the situation calmed down, the estate drew the interest of Benedictine monks. They were attracted to the estate primarily for its size and location, and would use it as a strategic logistics post as opposed to a particularly religious site. The Benedictines were major players in the region’s wool production, and what is now the Baron de Ley Rioja estate provided a more favourable situation for flocks of sheep than the exposed mountainsides.
Fast forward to 1836, and the Benedectine order found the estate confiscated as part of the ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizabal. The estate was awarded to a military leader, General Zurbano. By 1844, political instability forced the general to flee, and around this time he lost the estate (and all of his lands) in an ill-fated wager with a French count. The Frenchman had no interest in owning such an estate away from his native France, and eventually it came into the possession of the administrator of Zurbano’s debt, Colonel Muro.
Some years later and following Muro’s death, his widow would sell the estate to a Spanish family, the Jiménez family. They would remain for three generations, and were the first to see the agricultural potential of the land, beginning to farm it and introducing livestock and biodiversity. Following the decline of this family in the mid-20th century, the estate was left to another Spanish family, the Sanz-Pastors. These were the last owners before the estate would become transformed into what we know today as Baron de Ley Rioja.
Baron de Ley Rioja Today
Since 1985, the former Monastery of Imas has been the home of Baron de Ley Rioja. The winery is modern and state-of-the-art, though the winemakers respect the well-established Rioja tradition of oak ageing, using 225-litre Bordeaux-style barriques to age their Rioja wines.
Baron de Ley Rioja Wine
The wines of Baron de Ley Rioja are great value Tempranillo wines, perhaps none more so than its flagship, Baron de Ley Reserva. This Reserva is pure Tempranillo, and has spent 20 months in oak and a further two years in bottle. It has a powerful, fruit-driven nose with some underlying oak characteristics subtly adding to the experience. On the palate, you can expect restrained power, strong acidity and a long finish. This has all the hallmarks of a great Rioja Reserva for food, and is a particularly great match for simply-prepared, high quality cuts of beef.