Born in Navarra, Fernando Remirez has become an adopted favourite son of Rioja where he brought his undoubted skills to the vineyard and bodega in 1989. Located in the well preserved medieval village of Samaniego in Rioja Alavesa there are just 57 hectares of grape vines with an average age of 60 years. Classic Rioja grapes are nurtured here consisting of 90% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano with just 2% Garnacha. From this basic palette of flavours Fernando has been single minded in finding the very special wine for which he is renowned.
His bodega is built in the form of a splendid stone mansion faced with masonry stone blocks that are at least 200 years old and have acquired a warm patina. The mansion encloses a spacious, quiet, working yard crossed by a small stream of fresh cold spring water. The bodega borders on to the medieval church, intermingling perfectly with the other ancient buildings. However, once inside the visitor can see a breathtaking display of the most up to date wine making equipment and state of the art processes.
The quality of these extraordinary wines rest firmly on the concept of grapes nurtured and harvested by the owner with his unsurpassed knowledge of each plot's orientation, soil type and vine age. Only by producing the grapes under his strict day by day control can Fernando be sure of achieving a true reflection of the long established tradition of Rioja Alavesa wines.
Autumn is the critical time for the vineyards and the grapes to be harvested. As they mature at varying times in the different vineyard sites a continuous and laborious monitoring of ripeness is observed so picking at the optimum time can be made. Pickers employing small 12kg baskets will harvest the ripe bunches from a the vines leaving the still - maturing fruit for picking later in the season. After picking Remirez de Ganuza carries out a rigorous selection regime, separating the bunches by means of three conveyor belts: the first removes any loose single grapes, the second discards any unhealthy or damaged bunches, the third is used to cut the bunches in half, horizontally.
The half bunches are made from the top part ( shoulders ) or the bottom part ( feet ). This is a most unusual bodega practise, and having to be carried out by hand, makes for an expensive procedure in these days of ruthless business efficiency. Pressing of the half bunches follows, again using an innovative technical system whereby a flexible bag is lowered into the tank of must and this bag is gradually filled with water exerting a gentle but firm pressure on the grape pulp. Most of the remaining liquid is thus allowed to flow without risk of oxidation or extraction of unwanted herbaceous flavours. The basic principle is ancient and known as Trasnocho ( during the night ) where the winemakers allowed the grape must to slowly drip from sundown to sunrise.
The half bunches are processed separately and are not married together until the wine has been made. Ramirez believes , with some justification, that the top half of the bunch grows and develops at a different rate to the lower half so to take advantage of this fact the winemaking technique results in two wines from the same vine differing in character. Fermentation first takes place in unusually shaped small conical stainless steel tanks, and later the new wine is transferred to new oak barrels to complete the malolactic phase. To get the best from the barrel's contribution to developing and flavouring the wine, one third of the casks are replaced by new ones each year.
Both the French, and American oak barrels add specific flavour notes to the wine and Ramirez make decisions at each stage of the wine making process as to which wines need particular treatment and how much time should be allowed for maximum benefit.
The final tastings of these various casks identifies the characteristic nature of each wine so that a final wine blend can be made and the wine committed to the bottle which will be returned to the cool cellars for lengthy maturation.
The ultimate goal is to achieve a well structured, balanced and harmonious wine that can only await many years of maturation to deliver the perfection that is the reward for all the meticulous work and skills devoted to the task by all who give their efforts and dedication to Remirez de Ganuza.
Remirez de Ganuza Reserva: Full of matured and clean fruit expressing the unique character of Tempranillo grapes from mature vines grown in Rioja Alavesa. Long lasting central flavours that unfold on the palate as the wine breathes (decanting one hour prior to drinking is a good idea) followed by a smooth aftertaste rehearsing the complexities that have gone before.