The wines of Remírez de Ganuza, Rioja
Part 4 of a series based on a visit to this famous Spanish wine region

One of the star producers in Rioja is a relatively new one. Remírez de Ganuza have only been going since 1989 (first wine was in 1992), but they are already among one of the most celebrated of all producers in the region.

The man behind the winery is Fernando Remírez de Ganuza, who before starting his vineyards was the largest broker of vineyards in the region. So he knew where the good ones were, and now draws on almost 60 hectares of vineyards spread across 100 plots in the Rioja Alavesa. These are mostly old vines, with the youngest being 30 years old and the average age 60. 

He was the first to harvest in small baskets in the region, and also the first to separate out the shoulders and tips of the bunches to preserve only the best grapes for the top wines. The shoulders are richer in colour and tannins, and so on the sorting table these are taken off, and destemmed for making the reserve wines. The tips of the bunch, which have less colour, are used intact for the young wines made with carbonic maceration. 

Pressing of the Transnocho red (the top wine) takes place with a water bag that is placed into the tank at the end of fermentation once the free run juice has been drained; this is supposed to avoid oxygenation of the tannins and result in better quality press wine. The technique is novel and has been patented. The pressure reaches 2–3 bars, as opposed to 5 bars in a pneumatic press, which can break seeds. After this, the remaining skins are pressed in a basket press and this press wine is sold off in bulk. For the other reds, basket presses are used, but these are protected by wrapping the outside in polythene to try to avoid oxidising the skins.

New oak is exclusively used for ageing wines. Eight different coopers supply barrels, of which 80% are French and 20% American. 500 litre barrels have been tried, but they weren’t liked. Preferred stave thickness is 20–22 mm, and regular topping up is required because new barrels lose more wine than old.  

Carbonic maceration

This is often seen as a modern winery, but they would claim that they are not modern or traditional; rather, they are just trying to do the best with what they have. 


Remírez de Ganuza Erre Punto Blanco 2008
Barrel-fermented, a blend of 70% Viura and 30% Malvas
ía. Fine citrus fruit and pith nose with nice minerality and subtle toastiness. The palate is refined and crisp with herb and pith notes. Taut with good acidity and grapefruit freshness, as well as subtle oak. 90/100 (10 retail)

Remírez de Ganuza Erre Punto Tinto 2009
Carbonic maceration of whole clusters; 90% Tempranillo, the balance Garnacha and white grapes. Unoaked. Very juicy, bright and aromatic with sappy fresh cherry fruit. Lovely vibrant palate with freshness and juiciness, as well as a hint of seriousness alongside the fun. 90/100 (
10 retail)

Remírez de Ganuza Fincas de Ganuza Reserva 2004
90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 40 year old vines. Lush, sweet, ripe nose with pure black cherry fruit and some creamy vanilla oak. The palate has sweet fruit but also some savoury structure. Still a fair bit of oak, but it is fine oak. Fresh and vivid with firm tannins. 92/100

Remírez de Ganuza Reserva 2004
60 year old+ vines, 60 000 bottle production. Dense and taut with real intensity and firmly tannic structure. There’s quite a bit of oak here, but it’s high class, adding structure to the ripe, sweet blackberry, black cherry and plum fruit. Dense and complex with a lovely future ahead of it. 95/100 (
40 retail)

Remírez de Ganuza Trasnocho 2006
Pressed using the water bag system. 100% new French oak. Ripe sweet cherry and berry fruit. Nicely expressive with pure black fruits dominant: quite showy when compared with the Reserva but the sweet fruit is balanced by the spicy structure, giving it a nicely savoury dimension. Lovely pure fruit here: really accessible and expressive. 94/100 (
55 retail)

Remírez de Ganuza Gran Reserva 2001
Only made in 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2004 so far. 3500 bottles made in 2001. Just beautiful: fine, minerally, tarry and spicy with sweet blackberry and black cherry fruits. So elegant with smooth, pure, sweet fruit and some mineral character. Fine, silky tannins. Brilliant wine. 96/100

SEE ALSO: more notes on Remirez de Ganuza wines, from November 2013.

Part 1, Finca Allende
Part 2, La Rioja Alta
Part 3, Valdemar
Part 4, Bodegas Riojanas
Part 5, Remirez de Ganuza

Wines tasted 10/10  
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