Weekend Vinopolpick- November 30

November 30, 2013

The Palacios Story
from Rioja to Priorat to Bierzo

Alvaro Palacios is not exactly a new face in the wine scene – Along with Peter Sisseck of Pingus, Alvaro is considered today to be one of the most important winemakers of Spain’s modern era. He has had a key role in revolutionizing the Spanish wine industry; by making rich, complex World Class wines from Priorat, and in bringing the forgotten regions and grape varieties of Priorat and Bierzo to new heights.

From a Rioja winemaking family operating as Bodegas Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios was one of nine children set to inherit the struggling family estate that had been established in 1945. Though he had already begun working at the estate with two of his siblings, Alvaro got restless with tradition and chose to study in other regions. He interned in Bordeaux at the side of Christian Moueix, the celebrated winemaker of the Pomerol château Pétrus, and credits his two year tenure under Moueix for much of his winemaking philosophy and for showing him “the importance of great wines.”
In 1989, upon his return to Spain, the then 25 year old Alvaro Palacios left Rioja behind, deciding against getting involved in the family business and instead pursued his own ventures. He sold his car and his motorbike, moved to Priorat and associated with a group of “rebels” exploring the potential of wine regions in Spain beyond Rioja. In Priorat, he was strongly drawn to its ancient, abandoned vineyards, and acquired his first vineyard plots in 1990. Located 60 miles from Barcelona, Priorat had been one of Spain’s important pre-Phylloxera wine regions, planted predominantly with Garnacha, with Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot producing a smaller percentage. Known for its mineral black soil and the powerful wines produced from this terroir, Alvaro believed he could make a wine that would truly express the unique area. L’Ermita, located close to Gratallops, is Alvaros’ flagship vineyard. L’Ermita is a shady vineyard, with just the right quantity of sun and light and very low yields, conditions Alvaro feels are perfect for Priorat wines. He was right. His first wine under the Alvaro Palacios label, the 1995 L’Ermita, immediately gained him recognition as one of the world’s most inspired and dedicated winemakers.
Palacios’ vineyards in Priorat
Huge success in Priorat inspired Alvaro to search again for something new, this time putting his faith in the potential of the cooler climated Bierzo region and that area’s primary varietal Mencia.  In 1998, Alvaro and his nephew Ricardo Perez, who had just finished studying in Bordeaux, opened the doors to Descendientes de Palacios. Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo’s western border named Corullón. Purchasing old vine Mencia vineyards, Alvaro and Ricardo hoped to bring new life to Bierzo in the same way Alvaro did in Priorat. He and Perez work with 86 acres, divided into 20 parcels, and their wines include the Pétalos blend, a “village” Corúllon and single-vineyard bottlings from small hillside sites, including Las Lamas and Moncerbal.
Palacios wines represent three very different areas of Spanish winemaking,
with the more Atlantic Bierzo and the more Meditteranean Priorat, with continental Rioja in between
After initiating Descendientes de Jose Palacios, Alvaro was called to return to Palacios Remondo, the family business, after his father’s death in 2000. As the estate’s winemaker, Alvaro has begun to raise the family’s Rioja wines to a new level while continuing spectacular work at his own two wineries. Alvaro and Ricardo’s Descendientes de Jose Palacios is dedicated to Alvaro’s father, Ricardo’s grandfather, who passed away as they were finishing their first bottling, once again drawing inspiration from their families’ long history in Spanish winemaking. 

Alvaro Palacios- Wines of Priorat
In Stock Today:
Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2011 ($21.95) $15.70 special 5+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points “Bright purple.  Aromas and flavors of ripe red berries, cola and spicecake, with a deeper note of licorice emerging with air.  Lush and seamless, with very good finishing breadth and spicy persistence.  Shows plenty of upfront appeal but this wine has the concentration and balance to reward at least mid-term aging.”
Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi Priorat 2008 ($74.95) $59 special 4 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points “Deep ruby. Rich, complex aromas of raspberry, Asian spices, smoky minerals and violet. Focused and precise but also lush and sappy, with a texture of liquid silk and strong minerality adding to its intense red and dark berry flavors. Finishes impressively long, with resonating minerality and very suave tannins.”
Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi Priorat 2010 ($69.95) $59 special 18 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points “Bright violet color.  Suave, highly perfumed nose offers fresh raspberry, minerals, candied flowers and Asian spices.  Sappy and minerally, offering intense, spice-accented red fruit and floral pastille flavors with superb clarity.  Wonderfully supple in texture, with outstanding finishing persistence and only a hint of sweet tannins.”
Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses Priorat VV 2008 ($39.95) $33 special 7 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “A sexy, highly perfumed bouquet displays scents of candied raspberry, cherry cola, licorice and potpourri, supported by a strong mineral undertone. Juicy, penetrating red and dark berry flavors stain the palate and repeat the licorice note. Dusty tannins add grip and focus to a long, mineral-dominated finish.”ST
Alvaro Palacios Gratallops Priorat 2010 ($49.95) $39 special 3 cases available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “Dark ruby.  Aromas of cherry, cassis, cocoa, Asian spices and underbrush, lifted by a strong mineral quality.  Juicy, sappy and nicely concentrated, with very good density to its flavors of blackcurrant, bitter cherry and candied rose.  A lively, sexy wine that finishes with strong mineral bite and impressive length.”
Arriving December: 
Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi Priorat 2011 pre-arrival ($69.96) $59 pre-arrival special 4 cases available
Wine Advocate 94-96 points “The 2011 Finca Dofi is a blend of 95% Garnacha and 5% Syrah. It has another exuberant bouquet, like the older sister of the 2011 Gallotrops, endowed with beautifully defined floral aromas. There are hints of broom and fennel infusing the scintillating red fruit and a sorbet-like freshness. The palate is medium-bodied with a vibrant peppery entry, fanning across the mouth with succulent red currant and wild strawberry fruit. The acidity maintains superb balance, countering the 14.8% alcohol with ease. There is a firm underlying structure that is only exposed towards the long persistent, mineral-rich finish. Wonderful. Drink 2016-2030+”
Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita Velles Vinyes Priorat 2011 ($1199.95) $919 pre-arrival special 6 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 95 points “Glass-staining ruby.  Heady, complex scents of candied dark berries, incense, potpourri and smoky minerals, with a sexy vanilla nuance in the background.  Juicy, penetrating and pure, with superb clarity and power to the black raspberry and boysenberry flavors.  The floral element comes back strong on the mineral-driven finish, which lingers with outstanding tenacity, velvety tannins and echoing sweet blue fruit.”
Descendientes de Jose Palacios- Wines of Bierzo
In Stock Today:
Descendientes de J. Palacios Corullon 2010 ($49.95) $37 special 2+ cases available
Stephen Tazner 92 points “Bright violet color.  Pungent, youthful aromas of dark berry preserves, cherry-cola and candied violet, with a mineral topnote.   Offers an array of sappy red and dark fruit flavors, with spicecake and anise nuances building with air.  Silky tannins give shape and grip to a long, penetrating finish.”
Descendientes de J. Palacios Las Lamas Bierzo 2010 ($119.95) $69 special 6 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points “Deep, bright-hued ruby.  Powerful, spice-accented aromas of red berry liqueur, cherry pit, rose oil and incense, with a bright mineral topnote.  Sappy, penetrating raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show impressive energy and punch, picking up floral pastille and spicecake nuances with air.  Finishes chewy and very long, with slow-building tannins and insistent floral and spice notes.”
Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos Bierzo 2010 ($24.95) $16 special 5 cases available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points “(all mencia, as is the case for all of these wines, which are aged briefly in new French oak and then in older barrels before bottling):  Dark ruby.  Ripe red- and blackcurrant aromas are complicated by anise, cola and sexy oak spices.  Soft dark berry preserve flavors gain minerality and firmness with air.  Zesty cherry skin and mineral notes carry through a long, gently tannic finish.”
Arriving December 3rd:
Descendientes de J. Palacios Corullon 2011 ($49.95) $37 pre-arrival special 3 cases available
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2011 Corullon nearly jumps from the glass in an explosion of violets, ripe peaches and acid strawberry, the fruit darker, a touch riper, with some organic notes of humus and peat, even mushroom. You can drink it now to enjoy the exuberant, exotic profile of the wine or let it rest for three years and enjoy later. It has superb precision and length. Corullon also benefits from blending different vineyards.”
Descendientes de J. Palacios Las Lamas Bierzo 2011 ($119.95) $88 pre-arrival special 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2011 Las Lamas is a true expression of both the vintage and the vineyard, which is usually the most powerful of all the wines produced by the winery. Perhaps 2011 imprinted more character in the wine than 2010 did. The nose is full of blueberries, peach and gunpowder, wet slate, peat and smoke notes. It’s a powerful wine, this is the only vineyard where they have some clay mixed with the slate. Some fine-grained tannins hint at the need of a couple of years in bottle.”