Ossian, Rueda Blanco, Castilla y Léon, 2013

  Ossian

Fine smoky oak tannin and sandy minerals bring texture and savoury notes to the layers of stone fruit, citrus and guava on display in this Ossian from the year the rains came (no bad thing in the arid conditions of Segovia). A blend of over 30 predominantly old oak barrels, of varying sizes, from some of the oldest vines anywhere in the world, planted on the sandy, Phylloxera-proof soils around Nieva, it comes across as a more powerful, broader version of something that could hail from Burgundy, albeit with a greater emphasis on complex minerality, beeswax and stone fruit notes.

Contains Sulphites.

About Ossian

Ossian’s ancient vineyards are located in the village of Nieva in the Spanish province of Segovia. This particular part of Rueda is blessed with a seam of sandy soils that have protected the vines from the dreaded Phylloxera louse. The upshot is a wealth of incredibly old vine material which the team at Ossian farm with the sole intention of producing one of Spain’s great white wines. Add in an altitude of around 900m, with the huge diurnal temperature swings that this brings, and you have some very interesting grape material coming off Ossian’s old bush vines. Production methods fully organic and fully manual – the old bush vines prevent any sort of mechanisation – and ageing takes place in predominantly old French 600 litre barrels. Both Ossian and Capitel are whole bunch pressed and fermented entirely with wild yeasts. The only grape variety is Verdejo, not generally a grape afforded the chance to reach greatness by others, but here produced with a singularity of purpose, from such old vine material, that the end result is varietal defying and capable of serious cellaring. Also in the range is the great value Quintaluna, an amazing 60% of which now comes from pre-Phylloxera old vines, and the aforementioned Capitel, produced from a single plot of exceedingly old pre-phylloxera vines grown on a particular patch of sand over slate. These are undoubtedly some of Spain’s most interesting whites.

Appellation: Castilla y León

Castilla y Leon, the land of castles, is a large region that covers most of North Central Spain. It nears Madrid on its southern boundary, neighbours La Rioja and Navarra to the east, and stretches as far as, and includes, Bierzo at its north western edge. Perhaps not surprising then that the heartland of Castilian Spain has nine sub-provinces, the most of any Spanish region, and five classified DOs. Yet, this hot, dry part of the world was for most of the 20th Century associated only with hearty, rustic, basic wines, to be consumed locally. That was until the 1990s; a decade which witnessed a boom in quality, plantings, investment and international attention, led by the silky, perfumed reds of Ribera del Duero. It can now count Spanish luminaries Vega Sicilia, Bodegas Aalto and Sei Solo - Javier Zaccagnini’s latest venture - as residents. This means that, with Rioja and Priorat, Ribera del Duero is now rightly considered one of the leading fine wine regions in Spain. Of the four remaining DOs, Toro and Cigales are both regions that produce powerful, intense wines and remain somewhat underexplored, while Bierzo is an area experiencing a steady rise in popularity and international interest, particularly in Mencia, the indigenous local variety. Credit for much of this must go to the Decendientes de Palacios estate; the flagbearers of the region. Finally, and not widely appreciated, Rueda has the potential to produce top-notch whites from the Verdejo grape, given the right vineyard sites and skilled winemaking. Bodegas Ossian, located in the village of Nieva are leading the charge for quality - producing ripe, age-worthy wines with finesse and minerality thanks to some uniquely sandy soils. Sand provides a natural defence against the phylloxera pest and allows Ismael Gonzalo and his team to work with the very best old vines in the region (up to 160 years old).