Usually all we knew about the Spanish varietal Verdejo is that it was used to produce dry white wines in Rueda under the traditional style of the region and some more wines in the nearby province of Segovia, where wineries such as Belondrade and Lurton and especially Ossian are making great wines with this variety. It is precisely this last winery where our today’s hero sharpened his teeth: Ismael Gozalo, who decided to go on his own in the same province of Segovia with his project MicroBio Wines.
In this winery located in the small village of Nieva is where Ismael has made of the Verdejo something completely different from what we are accustomed to. Especially since he decided to make different wines, wines as stated on his website, which he has personally written texts and descriptions, some of the wines are “difficult and not for a beginner starting drinking wine, they are for those of us who like wine and want new experiences!”. What else do we want at OrangeWines.es other than different wines? Supermarkets are already full of plain style wines. The grace for wine lovers, I think, is in wines like these of Ismael’s.
Ismael has two lines of wines: MicroBio Wines and Ismael Gozalo. In both lines he mainly works with the Verdejo. In the first line he produces eight white wines, two Orange wines and a Pet Nat. And it is not only about the diversity but also about the processes used, which could well be called extreme: Vineyards certified in organic agriculture located up to 920 meters in height, manual works in the field and no use of chemicals, and then in the cellar terracotta or clay vessels, big casks and barrels, cold fermentations around 11-13 degrees on the lees that last for months, no battonage, no pumping, no corrections or filtering or sulphurs… He does everything that serves to give his wines a strong character and personality. And the quantity of each wine is limited; almost none reaches 1,000 bottles a year and in many cases less than 500 bottles.
Ismael uses a traditional 500-liter stainless steel vertical press. After a light pressing, the must goes to different containers depending on the wine in which it is to be converted. Fragil ferments in 16 liter glass containers; Ilegal, for example, spends nearly a year in barrels in their 4th or 5th year of use. Issé remains in clay vases for almost a year and then it ages the same time period in a stainless steel tank before bottling. La Mar Salada ferments and makes its ageing in an old fudre of 1,050 liters. Sin Rumbo is a white wine fermented in barrel, Nieva York is a Pet Nat, Correcaminos is an agile and light wine, and finally Rack, perhaps his most radical wine, whose production seeks “the elasticity of the varietal to find out its most extreme part in the sense of working the musts and fermentations with a high turbidity, looking for a reduction. Therefore, a self-protected wine.”
In the Ismael Gozalo line there are four more white wines: La Banda del Argílico, made with grapes coming from two plots in Nieva, El Pirata, a joint-venture with Riojan winemaker Benjamín Romeo using Rioja native grapes Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca from vineyards located in San Vicente de la Sonsierra (La Rioja) and with local Verdejo from Nieva. Sin Nombre is another single varietal Verdejo with nearly two years of ageing, both in cask at first and stainless steel tank afterwards. Finally, behind the name of Rs-P.bl.c. Verdejo we find a wine whose grapes come from a plot rated Grand Cru in the El Carril vineyard. Fermentation and aging is in Burgundian barrels of 228 liters in which it remains for a period of 10/12 months.
This is all about white wines, which as we see, is not just a small bunch.
Ismael also makes two Orange wines; KM 0 Origen and Tentados. The first one is fermented in clay vases. After two months of fermentation, the pasta is pressed and the wine is passed to barrels for ageing almost a year. After the first period in barrel, it is left ten more months in tanks for its fining. These wines have a high tanicity due to the contact of the must with the skins and scrape for a long time. The second wine, Tentados, is fermented in clay jars where it undergoes a carbonic maceration of about five weeks. Subsequently, the must stays in contact with the skins for six months.
MicroBio Wines also features two Rosé wines made with Tempranillo and seven red wines made with Tempranillo, Merlot, Rufete, Mencía and Syrah. As we see, a great collection of wines that deserve more time to talk about them and we will do so in another time, because you have to give them the respect they deserve. For the moment, we will focus on the white and orange wines besides talking to Ismael about his passion for Verdejo and his winemaking philosophy in Segovia.
Photos (c) MicroBio Wines