FINCA & Bodegas las Orcas Winemaker Dinner,
with winemaker Raimundo Abando
Sunday, March 12th at 6:30pm
$40 dinner tasting menu, $45 wine pairings (optional) + tax/ gratuity
Limited Seating: 50 guests
At FINCA, 327 West 200 South
Walking the streets of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa, Spain with Raimundo Abando is what I would imagine it would be like to walk through the Vatican with the Pope. Fine. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but take away the religious zeal and the robe, and we are getting close. But it’s immediately apparent that so many people we pass along the streets have the utmost respect and admiration for this man. His uncle was a founder of the renowned CVNE Winery in La Rioja Alta and other family members were major industrial players in Bilbao. And not surprisingly, Raimundo’s Bodegas las Orcas winery (which produces the Solar de Randez, Pagos de Valdeorca, and Decenio labels) has four generations alone in its lineage, beginning in 1900.
From hoteliers to professional footballers to local government officials to shop clerks, they all stopped to “pay their respects” to Raimundo as we strolled the town. It didn't come off simply like fame, but rather the way you would greet the mother of your closest family friend. That's the way I feel each time I encounter him. His 6’3”ish frame can initially feel imposing, but his generous smile and sincere greeting makes me feel like we have always been friends and have just re-united after years of absence. For me, Rai is just “one of those people.” I am proud to call him a friend. I learn from him each time we meet. He is unbelievably generous. He is ridiculously humble. (It took 4 years of friendship to learn the Cune story!). What can I say -- I emoticon Rai.
Over the years of visiting winemakers I can’t help but make parallels between the winemaker and their wines. Rai’s wines offer that same sense of presence he has. Some of his wines are imposing, like the Pagos de ValdeOrca with a ripe and rich core. It has never been flat or boring, but each year in bottle it softens and expresses more of itself, showing complexion at each step of its maturity. His younger wines, like the Rosado and the Blanco, are instantly approachable, and show Rai’s personal balance and steadfastness. Both wines are precise varietal examples. The Blanco offers a bit of floral and apple aromas, but no single profile takes over -- balance between the mouth feel, acidity and the fruit profiles. I could go on and on, as his wines really do reflect him as the winemaker. Nothing is too flashy, too big or too bold. All the wines strive for balance and even a sense of humility. He knows that when you drink his wines, they will speak for themselves. With multiple generations of winemaking experience along with incredible 60-90 year old vineyards, there is no need for aggressive short-lived wines. His wines and his presence will likely be around another four generations.
Brad Jensen of Bon Vivant importers describes the winery and region:
Bodegas las Orcas is a small, family-owned and operated winery in the Rioja Alavesa region of Spain. The winery was officially founded in 1900 in the town of Laguardia and made wine in their traditional cellar underneath the medieval town until the construction of the new bodega just outside the town wall in 1999. Raimundo and his wife Cristina run the winery today and make remarkable Rioja wines using only fruit from their own family vineyards. The vineyards are tended naturally without the use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides and the wines are fermented using native yeasts and absolutely minimal filtration. All wines are vegan friendly.
One of the longest-lived, and most recognizable wine regions on the Iberian Peninsula, is the famous Rioja DOCa of Northern Spain. Centuries of viniculture and tradition have created this area as one of the most distinct and iconic areas for the well-known Tempranillo grape. Having three major sub-zones (Alavesa, Alta, and Baja) that share in different proportions combinations of chalky-clay, ferrous-clay, and alluvial soils, combined with the influence of the great Ebro River, Rioja has a true sense of place in each bottle. Protected from the great winds of Northern Spain by the Cantabrian Mountains, this 100-mile long continental climate zone is known for its fantastically age-able reds (which can include bits of Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuela), as well as some small amounts of delicious Rose and White wines (primarily from Viura, Malvasia, and Garnacha Blanca).
This ode to Rai is not just a personal expression of admiration; Rai is coming back for his fourth(!) wine dinner with Finca. I am honored to have Rai back to Finca. And I would love to have you join us for an evening with this charming and personable winemaker Raimundo Abando, of the Bodegas las Orcas winery, as well as the super-knowledgeable wine importer Brad Jensen of Bon Vivant to enjoy an evening of great food, great wine, and great company. Each time I visit Bodegas las Orcas in Spain, I learn a bit more about Raimundo and his wines, and I take those lessons and aim to incorporate that knowledge into the wine dinner - some of the pairings we put together are even inspired by meals Raimundo actually cooked for us while visiting his winery. We look forward to sharing this special evening with you.
President & Founder, Pago Restaurant Group