I love Alvaro’s unusual combination of impishness, innovation and determination to prioritise wine quality above all else. JANCIS ROBINSON
I have known Alvaro for many years; as a young man, he was a trainee with us in Pomerol. I was awestruck by his dynamism, and he has not changed. With his desire to improve the wines in his home country, and with an insatiable energy, he has embarked on many new projects. Spain is lucky to have him. CHRISTIAN MOUEIX, Winemaker at Chateau Petrus
I am a hopeless Alvaro Palacios fanboy. I was lucky enough to spend a few days with him at his Priorat (pictured above) base in 2014. To those that may not be familiar with him, Alvaro Palacios is generally considered to be Spain’s most important and admired winemaker. He won the Decanter Man of The Year in 2015 (one of the youngest recipients). His top wines are some of the most sought after, rare and expensive wines in Spain, but his quality from entry level all the way up is astonishing.
Alvaro was born in La Rioja in the family winery Palacios Remondo. He grew up working in the vineyards before leaving to gain experience abroad at icons such as Stag’s Leap and Petrus. Convinced he could produce the equivalent in Spain, he returned to his homeland and toured on a motorbike to look for the perfect terroir, selling wine barrels for petrol and board money. Eventually, he settled in Priorat and established Alvaro Palacios. Never one to rest on his laurels he went back to Bierzo where he had identified another terroir that was also perfect for his dream of a quality cru wine. He established Descendientes de Palacios, named for his father who was a part of the project before sadly passing away before the first vintage was released. He has since returned to the family winery in Rioja where he is directing operations and breaking the mould there.
This pack contains to of each of his regional wines (entry level) from each of his 3 labels: Alvaro Palacios ‘Camins del Priorat’ 2016, Desendientes de Palacios ‘Petalos’ 2016 and Palacios Remondo ‘La Vendimia’ 2016. We have not seen anywhere that sells all three wines, but collectively the pack could cost up to €162 according to RRP. We are offering this 6-Pack for €120, an incredible intro price. I love these wines and I am passionate about them. As always, I am delighted to chat if you have any queries. Read on for some more info on each of the wines and regions.
When Alvaro reached Priorat it was a burnt-out husk of a region. It had wine making history, as the monks of the Scala Dei Priory had been producing for centuries, but no commercial winemaking pedigree. Alvaro and a small band of energetic young winemakers immediately saw potential in the region, not least because of the licorella terroir. Licorella is a type of schist that imparts a distinctive truffly smell to the wine that is completely unique to the region. There is so little rainfall that the vines are forced to deep dive in search of water, resulting in highly concentrated, inky wines. Garnacha and Carignan are the main varieties. Alvaro bought a vineyard he named L’Ermita (Hermitage homage!) and very quickly established Priorat as the next big thing in wine. In a few very short years it had gone from a desolate wasteland to one of two regions in Spain to hold DOC status (Rioja being the other).
Alvaro Palacios 'Camins del Priorat' 2016
What a magnificent introduction to Priorat. This is Alvaro’s regional Priorato, and after this wine the price increases sharply. He wants to make a wine that will be affordable to everybody that will showcase his style. Garnacha dominant with some International varieties, year after year this is one of the best put together wines of the vintage and a bastion of value in an expensive region. STSWine
The Spanish dictator Franco, like most murderous tyrants was not very commercially minded. He also was not very much fun. A teetotaller, he believed wine was for the sacrament only and had most of Spain’s ancient vineyards completely grubbed up and replanted with other crops, or high yielding characterless wines. After Alvaro’s first miracle in Priorat, he believed he could repeat the trick in the mystical area of Bierzo. Having found a pocket of very old Mencia vines on a very steep cliff, he began to propagate and established with his father and nephew Descendientes de Jose Palacios.
Descendientes De Jose Palacios 'Petalos' Mencia 2016
Every time I drink DJP Petalos, upon every release I wonder to myself, how does he do it? Pound for pound this is one of the best value wines on the planet – incredible that this is his regional wine. Mencia in all its majestic splendour, it displays haunting perfume and gorgeous colour. The palate is rich and deep but at the same time juicy with a fresh spritzy acidity. There is balance, texture, complexity and a magnificent finish. Wherever you stand on Mencia, expert or novice; this needs to be tried. This is Corullon Bierzo Mencia at the very top of its game. STSWine
This savoury red offers notes of espresso, black olive and graphite framing a core of black cherry and liquorice. Fine grained tannins and fresh acidity keep this balanced. Harmonious and graceful. Drink now to 2024. No. 35 on WINE SPECTATORs Top 100 Wines of the Year.
Having achieved his dream of exposing the world to the magical potential of the Spanish terroir, Alvaro returned to the family winery in Rioja and took over operations at Palacios Remondo. Alvaro did not like what Rioja had become even when he was a child: a brand, pumping out industrial volumes of homogenous wine labelled according to how much oak is thrown at it was the antithesis of his philosophy as a winemaker. Afterall, anybody can make a Gran Reserva, you just need wine and wood, it does not mean it will be good and frequently it is not. He began a campaign to geographically re-classify Rioja. As he was running 3 wineries, he managed to remain largely out of the fray and starry-eyed wine makers took up the fight in his place, while he remained an influential figurehead. Alvaro also championed changing the name of Rioja Baja (Rioja Lower) to Rioja Oriental. Thanks largely to Alvaro’s ideas and presence, Rioja and Priorat are implementing geographical classification system.
Alvaro’s changes in the family winery were even more severe and ground breaking. He described the industrially irrigated wines as artificial wine. He deemed the vineyards in Palacios Remondo to be completely unsuitable for Tempranillo and grubbed it all up (any Tempranillo now is bought from the finest growers in the Haro). He began bio-dynamic viticulture and replanted older Garnacha and Viura vines. He will not stop until every inch is replanted appropriately. It is the best thing to do according to Alvaro and is therefore mandated. It will take at least another 10 years to complete this task.
Priorat and Bierzo’s most expensive and collectable wines are his (L’Ermita & La Faraona). He has now repeated the trick in Rioja with a jaw-droppingly rare and expensive wine called Quinon de Valmira.
Palacios remondo 'La Vendimia' 2017
With so many Rioja wines’ fruit disenfranchised by oak, deliberative oxidation and general tomfoolery in the winery, it is such a treat to have a traditionally styled Rioja made in the vineyard. This wine is always a joy to behold, delicious juicy fruit and a whack of tasteful and integrated wood to support, not suffocate the wine. Bright crunchy fruit and earthiness at the same time, how does he do it?! Garnacha based, as mentioned above there is also some premium-bought in Tempranillo. STSWine
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We adore Alvaro’s wines, we hope you do to. Please contact me if you have any queries about any of the wines or what of other wines are available (plenty by the way!) STSWine