Remirez de Ganuza. The 100 Parker points pure wine
The Church tower stands out high on the slopes and gives visibility to Samaniego way before we arrive. We went out searching for Remirez de Ganuza Cellar that is right in the middle of town, next to the Church, divided among old stone houses. It’s as if the cellar was an integrated part of this small Town. On one side enter the grapes on the other they are processed and go through the process until ageing. On the right you have the wine shop and underneath it, like tombstones, bottles are ageing for years and years, because here everything is done without rushing. All of this facing the square kept safe by the Church tower.
Jesus is the winemaker and our host. He says miracles are not necessary in winemaking, we only need to respect the grapes arriving from the vineyards. Jesus is the one carrying the legacy of a house funded only in 1989, but somehow already achieved the status of mythic, thanks to the work done by its founder. Fernando Remirez de Ganuza, a grape négociant in the Rioja Alavessa that always had the motto of being faithful to… the grapes. He decided to start his own wine defending minimum intervention, as if any detail or unpredictable factor could contaminate what is more important: the grape berry quality. And that is how his 2004 Gran Reserva, with the same name as Remirez de Ganuza, got 100 Parker points, starting the myth.
Jesus guides and shows us how the wine is done. The vineyards are in average 50 years, but the older and less productive ones are most valued. Of course, vineyards are well identified and studied in the 80ha available. When the grapes arrive at the cellar, the rush of cellar work is broken so the berries get a cold shock and lower the temperatures – all the 12kg boxes spend 24 hours in a cooling chamber and only after that cold stabilization do they go on to be selected. In here, not one bad grape goes by. Not one green grape. While he is describing us the process and shows us the sorting tables, where we do this job, Jesus reminisces about another detail: the grape bunches are cut and for the noble wines the basal part (the pointy part at the bottom of the bunch) are taken away because those grapes don’t have the same level of maturation.
By now we have established that the miracle is in selecting only what is best. It doesn’t matter how much you sacrifice. But it doesn’t stop here. At Remirez de Ganuza, the integrity of the grape berry is protected until the end, so they avoid pressing them. The berry crushing and the wine itself is made naturally in the fermentation tank, between the pump-overs. The tanks were designed specifically for this producer, in a way that allows the separation of the seeds on the bottom further allowing its removal. The skins of white grape berries are used for stabilization and, finally, the wood barrel ageing begins, always in new oak that, in the beginning, are kept separate to avoid contamination, from the ones ageing from different years.
I must say I have never been in a production area with this smell and this clean. At the end of the visit, after we crossed the entire cellar, where we can’t find even a dust grain, where it seems we are inside the cleanest lab in the world, do we understand what Jesus means when he affirms they are looking for “pure and clean wines”. This sentence comes back after, at the table, when we sit down to taste. “Here is a clean wine.” The purity is in the entire process and it’s felt in the wine, of course. The rest is time. Just to have an idea, the 2004, that was given 100 points, spent 53 months ageing. FIFTY-THREE MONTHS!
At dinner with producers from the area, where we shared wines and stories, Jesus showed up with one bottle of his 2005 Gran Reserva. Let me tell you, there were good wines on that table but his is another thing. It’s music, classic music that silences all the other ones. It’s tempranillo transformed into velvet, controlled tannins, nothing bothers. No one will ever find a green touch of a leaf or a grape seed because there was mothing like that in there, because the wine is pure, and it is irreprehensible.
Well, like Jesus said, here you have a clean wine.
P.S. What about the whites Jesus is making?! Elegant, creamy and complex. Oaked Rioja whites “aux point” with excellent acidity promising an even bigger surprise with bottle ageing. My God… what a surprise!