April 30, 2011

Meeting Fernando

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I was very excited when I first found out that Fernando Remirez de Ganuza was going to be in town.  I first discovered his wines back in 2005, and his bodega was one of only two wineries where I stopped for tastings while I swung through Rioja back in the summer of 2006.  Since that time his wines have apparently attracted a lot more attention around the world, thanks to some high scores doled out by a certain wine critic.

I arrived at the Steak House Winebar + Grill, and after a while got to chat with Fernando and his team.  They were surprised to find that I have actually visited the bodega, although I did not meet Fernando in person at the time.  I recounted my tales of buying and lugging his wines all over Spain and Portugal, and how I had brought his wines with me to drink while having breakfast at Bar Pinotxo inside La Bouqueria in Barcelona just before heading to El Bulli, and while having lunch at Rafa's in Roses the day after our big meal at El Bulli.

2009 Remirez de Ganuza Erre Punto Blanco - Fernando says that this is a much better wine than the 2005 vintage which I had purchased back in 2006, as he has gained a few more years' of experience making white wine.  A very lovely wine to drink on a warm day, with prominent notes of white flowers, honey and some white pepper.  Definitely a wine to drink young as the floral notes start to disappear once it has put on some age.

I guess more restaurants are taking their butter seriously, and there was a series of 3 different flavors here - including piment d'espelette and black truffle.  Pretty sure they weren't Bordier, though...

2004 Remirez de Ganuza Reserva - forest and herbs, smoke, sweet fruit and vanilla.  Finally opened up nicely after 2½ to 3 hours.

2001 Remirez de Ganuza Reserva - still very big and tannic.  Nose wasn't very open at first, with a light amount of smoke and kinda sweet.

Pan-seared duck foie gras with Port wine sauce - this was OK.

Pan-seared scallop with orange dressing - well this wasn't just orange dressing, but a whole chunk of orange at the bottom...  The scallop was OK.

2001 Remirez de Ganuza Transnocho - a much more concentrated wine thanks to the cake being pressed to extract more juice after the initial free-run press.  Interestingly, the skins of the Viura and Malvasia grapes used to produce the white wine are also used.  Minty, herbs, alcoholic, exotic spices and a little plastic.  I could definitely feel the oak.  Big and concentrated.

2006 Remirez de Ganuza Transnocho - loads of sweet fruit, vanilla, herbs, big and huge with lots of coconut butter.  Stylistically very different from the other wines - much more forward and delivering fruit flavors upfront.

US tenderloin 8oz, sweet potato fries, French beans and roasted cherry tomatoes - I didn't want to eat too much, so I picked the smallest cut.  Nicely done as medium-rare.  The sweet potato fries had a mix of purple and yellow.

One of the gimmicks here was a wide selection of salts as well as mustards one can choose from.  I never take my steak with any mustard, and in reality I don't need much salt for my steak, either...

1994 Remirez de Ganuza Gran Reserva in magnum - minty, lots of grass, a little alcoholic, concentrated fruit, a hint of smoke, salty with soy sauce.  This took a little time but opened up nicely at the end of the evening.  Definitely some resemblance to the 1995 Gran Reserva I opened up last year.

Brie with truffle, Comté, Mimolette, country bread - after having gotten used to aged Mimolette and Comté, it's a little change of pace to have the younger versions.

It was good to finally have met Fernando in person, and a great opportunity to be able to taste all the wines in one sitting.  I did wonder why the wines weren't opened and decanted earlier, though... These are big wines and need lots of aeration to really open up, and my experiences over the last couple of days have clearly demonstrated that.  I do hope to revisit the bodega in the future and hang out with Fernando a little more.

1 comment:

Dean Aslin said...

Dear Growing Boy,
thanks for attending the dinner on Saturday night and for your review.

I just wanted to explain why the wines were not decanted prior to serving.

Initially we asked Fernando for his recommendation as to how long the wine should be decanted before serving. As you rightly pointed out, this is a fairly standard operation with wines of this style. Somewhat surprisingly Fernando insisted that the bottles not be opened until just before serving and that they be poured directly from the bottle.

Fernando feels that one of the best experiences to be had with his complex and layered wines is having them evolve in front of you so that you can experience every change. He told me that if you decant for an hour you will miss out on some of the most exciting changes in the wine.

I guess this is not surprising that such a perfectionist should see things this way.

Of course we would never go against the winemakers wishes but it did take an awfully long time for some of these realatively young wines to open up. Maybe a wine dinner is not the best scenario for discovering all that Fernando would like us to.

Thank you again for your review and I look forward to hosting you again soon.

Dean Aslin,
Marketing Manager
Saveurs International (Asia) Limited


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