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Remírez de Ganuza to launch first Garnacha red wine

One of Rioja’s leading bodegas, Remirez de Ganuza, is set to launch its first ever red made from 100% Garnacha. The estate’s owner, Jose Urtasun, talked to db about the inspiration behind the new wine, the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic posed, and why Spanish back vintages are set to be the hottest trend.

Remirez de ganuza

What was the inspiration behind launching a red wine not based in Tempranillo? What markets are you looking to target and how are you hoping consumers will respond to the wine?

It all began with a conversation during harvest time between Jesus Mendoza (Remírez de Ganuza enologist) and me. That day we were receiving grapes and Jesus asked me to taste a bunch of Graciano of outstanding quality – you won’t find a better Graciano anywhere in Rioja.

That lead to a conversation where I said that it was a shame to blend some outstanding grapes of varieties like Garnacha and Graciano, and that maybe we could produce a very limited amount of those varieties wines.

For several months we were talking about two outstanding Garnacha vineyards that we have in San Vicente de la Sonsierra and decided to go ahead and produce a very limited amount of this outstanding Garnacha.

The production is so small, around 800 bottles, that it is not going to have an impact in terms of sales, it probably has no financial interest, it is more a passionate decision that lead us to produce this Garnacha. Both Jesus and me are really excited to produce this wine.

It is pure, delicate, floral, fresh, balanced, really enjoyable.

Why did you choose to call the wine Iraila? What does it represent, and what will the name communicate to consumers?

Iraila is the basque word for September, a very special month.

Last drops of summer slowly melt with incoming autumn. Days are still warm, but not as hot as in August and when sun sets you can start feeling the coolness of the new season.

For us September is also the beginning of harvest time. In our area it is said that September rules; no matter how good winter, spring and summer have been for the vines, September climate will determine how good the vintage will be.

Iraila is the first Remírez de Ganuza red wine that is not based on Tempranillo, a 100% Garnacha from 2 different old vines vineyards in San Vicente De La Sonsierra.

We knew we had some outstanding Garnacha vineyards and we where not willing to produce an overripe wine, we wanted a vibrant wine that makes you want more.

As it happens with the month of September, the wine is full of energy, very long, smells of bloody orange and red fruits, (summer) combined with freshness brought by a very nice acidity (autumn).

How will the two new releases benefit the Remírez de Ganuza brand as a whole? Are there any long term goals they will help you to achieve?

I believe this two new wines are of outstanding and very limited, they will probably not be representative in terms of income, but they are our ultimate attempt to push the quality of Remírez de Ganuza even further by showing the finesse of some of our favourite vineyards. Remírez de Ganuza has always been a blend wine and blending different vineyards has its advantages, but in the future I would like to take care of our most outstanding plots in a more specific way that will allow us to show why they are unique.

Investment in back vintages is a key area of growth in many regions. Why do you think now is the right time for collectors to invest in Remírez de Ganuza?

I believe it is an spectacular moment to invest in Remírez de Ganuza back vintages. Our production is very limited; some of our wines are out of stock each year for more than six months. This obviously means that demand exceeds production by far. We have hold prices the last couple of years, but with this demand and limited production in the future we will probably increase prices of some of our wines. This means it’s a perfect moment for collectors and investors.

That limited production, increasing demand combined with the fact that the wines have an outstanding ageing potential, makes Remírez de Ganuza a great choice for collectors.

Anyone can take a look on Wine Searcher and see how the prices of our back vintages are evolving worldwide. Our Gran Reserva 1994 was average 56€ in June 2017, two years later in June 2019 the average price was 264€.

Nowadays it’s virtually impossible to find in any online store in the world. That is a return of 371% in two years. There are not many wines in the world with this return. Similar behaviour happens with most of our Reserva and Gran Reserva vintages.

Do you think an improvement in performance has been spurred on by the pandemic? How has Covid-19 affected this trend?

The Pandemic gave us a very hard time in the beginning. Spain is our first market and we do sell a lot in high end restaurants. With all the gastronomy closed, in the period between March and June 2020 we sold 10% of the previous year.

We had to redefine our sales channel and our distribution network. We increased export a lot, became more successful at online stores, and began to work with clients that focus on private consumers and collectors.

The first trimester of 2021 was our worst sales results ever, but I was confident that we would change this trend and we closed 2021 as our best year ever in terms of sales.

This year I expect to grow over a 30%.

Do you expect your performance on the secondary market to continue improving? What would this mean for the brand, and for the wider region of Rioja?

I am absolutely confident that this is only the beginning. If we keep it up producing even higher quality wines our success on the secondary market will have a more consistent history and the brand will be more recognised around the world.

Remírez de Ganuza is a boutique limited production winery and our brand recognition is still uneven. There are countries and people that value our wines as one of the best wines of Spain and the world, and at the same time there are many consumers and collectors in other countries that have never heard about Remírez de Ganuza.

Some of our wines are sold out extremely fast and some of our excellent vintages are almost impossible to find.

In the short term we will have to work with allocations for most of our wines. This path is very important For both Remírez de Ganuza and Rioja as a whole.

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