Born in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, José Gil is a young wine grower who joined his father and uncle at the family winery in Rioja after completing his oenology studies in 2012.
Bodegas Olmaza is a small business which means there’s plenty of multi-tasking —with no distributors, they deliver the wines themselves. All the grapes that make their way to the winery come from their own vineyards: 35 hectares of bush wines (including all new plantings), most of which are found in the higher parts of San Vicente, as well as in Briones and Labastida. It is significant that the oldest vines are destined to the young, carbonic maceration red, their flagship wine and the family’s pride and joy.
José owns five hectares of vines. In 2011 he bought an old cave in San Vicente's old bodega district next to Benjamín Romeo’s (Contador). By 2013, José started to make his own wines although they were not released until the 2016 vintage. With less than 2,000 bottles, production is tiny but he expects to gradually increase it.
The range include three red wines sold under his name. All of them are blends of Tempranillo with small amounts of Viura ranging from 10% to 15%. There’s a village wine (1,000 bottles, €14) fermented in stainless steel tanks and two single-vineyard reds made in 500-litre open barrels: La Cóncova and El Bardallo (only 300 bottles each, around €20 each). Both vineyards are less than a kilometer away but show different profiles. La Cóncava is planted with 25- to 30-year-old vines on clay-limestone soils on a slope facing northeast. La Cóncova’s vines are 60 years old and lie on a south facing plot planted on sandy soils, yet relatively exposed to the northern winds and, therefore, quite aerated. Clusters are less compact than those from El Bardallo.
José Gil has a strong passion for wine and is a staunch defender of bush vines (“they adapt really well here and San Vicente is particularly rich in them”, he says). His role models in Rioja are Contador, Artadi and Artuke.