Ismael Gozalo is a Verdejo mastermind. In 1998 he founded his own winery in the village of Nieva, working with the ancient vines tended to by four generations of winegrowers before him. The sandy soils of this area protected the roots from the phylloxera plague when it swept the country in the late 19th century, preserving these vines of 140–280 years old. After phylloxera, most vineyards in Europe were grafted onto American rootstock, due to its natural resistance to these microscopic insects. Not only is Ismael unusual in a region of intensive farming, but he is also working with vines that have been trained only from above the ground – with zero disturbance to their roots – and have never received chemical treatment. The grapes grow at an altitude of 900 metres, 85% of which are the native Veredejo. The wines are made in the converted underground cellar of a 11th century monastery, using everything from amphorae to glass demijohns, and stainless steel to old oak barrels.
La Resistencia 2021 was born out of necessity and passion. Ismael had planned to sell the grapes to another winery but, just before the harvest in 2018, the deal fell through. The solution? Make the wine himself. Whole bunches are pressed slowly then transferred to tinaja, a stoneware vessel taller and larger than the qvevri of Georgia. Here the juice is fermented and aged for approximately 9 months. An aromatic wine with fragrances of fennel and apple, and plenty of layers to explore.