Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer
Ekstedt at The Yard,
Great Scotland Yard Hotel, London
In the third feature of ‘My Remírez de Ganuza’ we talk to Klearhos Kanellakis, the head of all things wine at the Scandinavian-inspired restaurant Ekstedt at The Yard. The Greek-born sommelier champions European wines with a sense of place, and has given Rioja central stage on his wine list.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I am the Head Sommelier at Ekstedt, a restaurant focused on Scandinavian cooking techniques using British ingredients. Before starting at Ekstedt, where I have been for a year, I worked with Isa Ball MS at Trivet and at 67 Pall Mall. It was at 67 that I first met the Remírez de Ganuza team and tried their wines.
What does your wine list look like? Does Rioja have a special place in it?
We have a Europe-focused wine list. Scandinavian flavours work particularly well with European terroir-driven wines. Rioja is one of the four red wine regions – alongside Barolo, Northern Rhône and Tuscany – that play a central role and we highlight. Rioja is always available by the glass and has a special section, divided by style, subregion and category. It also features often on the wine pairing flight.
Which Remírez de Ganuza wines do you currently list?
They’re on their way actually – I am about to list the Blanco and the Reserva. And I really hope we can organise a special event with Remírez de Ganuza wines very soon.
Will they feature on the menu’s wine pairing?
Yes. We are preparing a new Premium pairing, starting in September, and I want to include the Reserva for the smoked rib main course. And the Blanco could work really well with our Juniper-smoked turbot. This is another potential great pairing.
How do you define the style of Remírez de Ganuza?
As, for example, in Barolo, it is increasingly hard to classify producers as traditional or modern. For me Remírez de Ganuza sits in the middle, remaining committed to tradition but also experimenting with new approaches. But I believe that the fact that the wines are from Rioja Alavesa is key – the distinctive terroir is a very important aspect to understand the wines and their style.
If you had to pick one bottle of Remírez de Ganuza as a personal favourite, which wine would you choose?
I am always impressed by the whites. Tasted blind they could be mistaken for top quality Burgundy. Take the Blanco 2017: such seamless oak integration and fantastic waxy quality balanced by a citrus zing. I could also mention the [red] Reserva 2006, with very fine tannins and an amazing fruit quality balanced by savoury notes. A great example of the amazing work done with French and American oak.
But overall, I am always impressed by the passion and expertise of the Remírez de Ganuza team. It really is a pleasure to work with people that are so friendly and committed to producing top wines.
What is your serving protocol for the wines?
I like to serve the reds slightly chilled – at around 16℃ – allowing them to open in the glass without losing any aromas. I don’t like to decant for extended periods but if a young wine does need to be decanted I will do it 10 to 15 mins before serving. With older vintages I will simply open the bottle a few minutes before, without decanting. Some whites also benefit from decanting: if they have a certain reductive quality, some time in the carafe will allow them to be more open and ‘complete’ when poured.