Winegrower Ismael Gozalo has deep roots in Nieva, a village in the province of Segovia which is part of the DO Rueda. Sandy soils are abundant here so it is still possible to find prephylloxera and ungrafted vines.
Ismael’s family has been traditionally linked to Viñedos de Nieva, a winery which is now owned by the Martúe group. Viñedos de Nieva used to be the leading producer in the area until Ismael partnered with Javier Zaccagnini (Aalto and Sei Solo in Ribera del Duero) to launch Ossian. Their aim was to extract the huge potential of these ungrafted, old Verdejo vines and just from the start, their wines were considered among Spain’s best whites. Ismael Gozalo has always been a strong advocate of terroir and nature; he usually talks about bio-synergies and “eco-logic” winegrowing deliberately stressing the “logic” part of the word.
After Zaccagnini sold his part to Pago de Carraovejas, a well-known Ribera del Duero producer, Ismael also quit the company he founded to set up on his own. Despite his departure, he still sells part of his production to Ossian —in fact, Gozalo sells between 75% to 80% of what he grows and makes his wines with the remaining grapes.
MicroBio comprises two different ranges. He likes to experiment with his natural wines as is the case with Issée (fermented and aged in amphorae), Rack (cloudy musts in a reductive environment), Sin Rumbo (oxidation during pressing consequently showing volatile acidity) and Kilómetro 0, an orange wine fermented in amphorae with skins. Ilegal, another of his experimental wines, has a pretty interesting story which can be read on Gozalo’s website. The flagship wine within this range is Microbio, a Verdejo pressed with whole clusters and aged in large 1,015- and 1,050-litre casks brought from the Mosel. At the top of the range is Frágil, a Verdejo fermented and aged in glass demijohns “so than nothing stands in between the terroir and the bottle”. Finally, there are a couple of fun, fresh pét-nats -white and rosé- amusingly called Nieva York (€17)
His other, less extreme range starts with La Banda del Argílico (1,600 bottles in 2015 but production is expected to increase to 6,000 bottles this year). The wine is named after the argillic (clay) layers which maintain freshness in the soil thanks to the microbes living at 40-50cm depth. The wine is rather extreme with marked umami notes and it almost replicates the flavor of the soil. Sin Nombre (only 1,200 bottles, literally “unnamed”) is more classical in style and displays all the minerality and cellaring potential that a good old vine Verdejo can have. There will be a premium white which is set to be made with grapes from one of the plots formerly destined to Ossian’s El Capitel. Cuvée 3000 distributes the wines in Madrid and Barcelona.
Red wines inlcude: Livre, from Mencía vines grown on schist soils in the village of Corullón in Bierzo; Rufián, a Rufete from Sierra de Salamanca; a single-varietal Garnacha from El Barraco (Ávila, Gredos) and three single-varietal reds (Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot) from his own vineyards in Nieva.
Gozalo has partnered with Benjamín Romeo from Bodegas Contador in Rioja to craft Pirata, a white wine blending Verdejo from Segovia with Rioja grapes. Only 600 magnum bottles have been released at a retail price of €195 in Spain.
All the wines are sold under the Vino de España label.