Gustavo Gonzalez, MiraSunday, 07 July 2019 00:00
This was not a structured interview, just bits and pieces I picked up while Gustavo chatted with us and the dinner guests. Here we go:
Gustavo Gonzalez, Winemaker for Mira, dropped in @MetroWines today. Not to make this personal already but my favorite restaurant in this country is Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. Guess where the new Mira Winery will be built? Come on, just guess. Just south, I mean steps, south of the Bistro. How cool is that?
Meanwhile, let's start with the basics. What's the name, Mira, all about? Mira is the Latin root word for "miracle." Mira means peace in Russian, luck in Spanish and Sicilian and beautiful in Hindi. The label has a story too. The graphic encircled on the label is the 12th letter of the ancient Germanic alphabet signifying the harvest.
Gustavo is not just the Winemaker, he is also the artist who designed the label and the thinker who thought up the name Mira. "Everybody takes part in the process," says Gustavo who started the winery with two friends with other skills, "and I wanted to bring a little intellectual touch to our presentation." Well done Gustavo!
Mira started in 2009. Gustavo had been Winemaker for Robert Mondavi and had worked at Ruffino in Italy as well as at wineries in Burgundy, Argentina and, wait for it, Brazil. What?? The winery in Brazil only exports to the UK. Gustavo's goal for Mira is to put "all this experience from around the world into the bottle."
The dinner started with a Chardonnay paired with an oyster "dressed" as we say back home. Gustavo says, if you were to pick one off a vine, the Chardonnay grape does not look like anything special nor does it have much taste. That is what the Winemaker does, "build the grape." Same with Pinot Noir. The grape neither has much color or taste right off the vine. "It does not show what it has." The Winemaker has to "coax it out."
Jimmy D's Red Blend is smooooooooooth with raspberry, black cherry, violet and spice aromas and flavors. Gustavo mostly only works with 100% varietal wines, but here he has blended Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Nice.
The 100% Cabernet Sauvignon shows plum, coffee beans and velvety tannins. We were surprised by the capability of this wine. The pairing partner featured asparagus. Notorious for being a pairing nightmare, asparagus is said to only play well with a few wines including Gruner Veltliner. We are a long way from that grape here. Now it could have been that the asparagus in this dish were surrounded by meat and mushrooms and the respective juices took over. But, I don't know, asparagus usually busts through the barrier to clash just for the fun of it! Not here. All systems GO.
Fun Fact: Gustavo is left handed. He says many people in the wine industry are left handed. Who knew? But I can tell you that over, way over, 50% of the people who have worked here have been left handed. We need a study on this phenomenon.
Serious Business Fact: Gustavo Gonzalez is considered by many, including us @MetroWines, in the wine world to be "a winemaker's winemaker." These wines certainly proved the legend.
And on top of it all that, Gustavo was a really genuine guy. No attitude. No prevention. He did and does the name "Mira" proud.