Ismael Gozalo is one of the rising stars on Spain’s natural wine heaven.
He founded Ossian, in the high altitude village Nieva in the Segovia province in 2004, together with Javier Zaccagnini (read about his Ribera del Duero adventures here). Ismael soon went on to work on a smaller scale with his project MicroBio, to make use of his family’s best vineyards the way he wanted. Some of these are between 100 and 200 years old, pre-phylloxera, at between 800 and 900 meters. These vines have always been grown in an organic way.
Ismael works in a medieval underground cellar in his native Nieva using barrels of different sizes, amphorae, glass demijohns, and stainless steel. He works in a very natural way. His most important goal though, is to let the land speak directly through his wines.
They come in two lines. The whites are in the Ismael Gozalo line, except for Issé and Sin Rumbo, which are MicroBio. I collected some wines for tasting. Ismael has said that his wines expresses themselves best after more than a week in an open bottle. Ok, I gave them 7-12 days, tasting them occasionally and leaving them with their original cork.
La Banda del Argílico 2016
Verdejo from two Nieva vineyards, both ungrafted. The first has sandy soils, the other sand with gravel. The grapes are harvested twice, the first for freshness and low alcohol (all wines at 13,5%), the second for maturation, fruitiness, structure and length. Spontaneous fermentation, no added SO2. On lees for 5-6 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Light yellow, somewhat cloudy. White flowers in the aroma, citrus (orange peel), mature apples. Light but with a good concentration, good acidity.
Sin Nombre 2015
Verdejo from one of five parcels, Pago de Navales (acid soil, sand, 20% clay and low fertility). Natural fermentation in old oak (12 hl), remains in oak for 9-10 months on the lees (no batonnage). 10 months in steel, also on lees.
Clear yellow with a brownish hue. Mature apples, citrus (blood orange), hay, “breathes well” (meaning that the oak treatment is evident, without any sweetness). Quite full, good acidity, a touch of alcohol in finish.
ISSÉ Viñador Soñador 2016
Verdejo. From a 0,58 ha. vineyard planted at 915 meters in 1868, ungrafted. Spontaneous fermentation (that lasts for several months) in clay amphora, that is sealed for the one year ageing, then som time in steel before bottling. Unfiltered, no added SO2.
Light yellow with some green, somewhat cloudy. White flowers, citrus (grapefruit). Lovely fruit in the mouth, good acidity, elegant finish.
After ten days it’s maybe a little less focused, but still full of life.
Sin Rumbo Viñas Viejas Vendimia Tardía 2016
Verdejo, from a 0,42 ha. pre-phylloxera vineyard planted in 1872 in Nieva at 910 meters (one of the “Navales” vineyards). Poor soil; sand, gravel, pebbles. Whole cluster pressing, first a slow fermentation, then very quick (thus the volatile touch, according to Ismael). Spontaneous fermentation in clay amphora, no added SO2, unfiltered.
Light yellow, just a little bit cloudy. White flowers, apples, citrus, wax, and a slight touch of volatile acidity. Good concentration, fresh acidity, long.
The fruit is more vibrant after ten days than the previous amphora wine.
Respública Verdejo 2015
Verdejo from one plot (that he calls Grand Cru). Whole cluster pressing, spontaneous fermentation in old 228L barrels where it remains around 10 months. Bottled unfiltered.
Straw yellow, clear. Complex nose of citrus (lemon), yellow apples, chalky minerals, vanilla and a touch of honey. Rich, creamy, some oak, and good acidity in a long and intense finish.
Twelve days after (with low standing and just the original cork) am not able to detect any vanilla, and no oxidation. The wine is creamy, mineral, full of mature apples, and the balance is just perfect.