Pioneer. Wine Star. Visionary. All of these terms aptly describe Spanish winemaker, Álvaro Palacios.
One of nine children, Palacios was born into a winemaking family. With a desire to learn more about what makes wine outstanding, Palacios went to Bordeaux to study oenology. He worked under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Moueix at Château Pétrus. It was here that Palacios was, ‘absorbed by the French philosophy’.
Palacios came back to Spain and inspired a renaissance within his countries’ winemaking regions. Instead of quantity, Palacios strove to push for quality over everything else. Along with managing the family estate of Palacios Remondo in Rioja, Palacios is known to be constantly in his car driving around the countryside looking for new terroir and opportunities that speak to the majestic wines Spain is capable of producing.
In his quest to seek out new vineyard land, Palacios was drawn to the pre-Phylloxera wine region of Priorat in 1989 when he was 25 years-old. Palacios purchased his first vineyard, Finca Dofi, in 1990 and then, three years later, acquired L’Ermita, arguably one of the best vineyard sites in all of Spain, planted with old vine Garnacha. L’Ermita quickly became a cult wine and continues to impress with consistent accolades and high scores.
This success did not slow Palacios down, rather it inspired him to find another hidden gem. He started out on another search and found the ideal location in Corullón in the mountains to the west of Bierzo, located in Northwestern Spain. Palacios explained, “There is a mystic history to this place. Growing grapes here is very hard and demanding on the incredibly steep slopes. We believe that French monks brought the native Mencía grape to Spain in the Middle Ages and made it into their communal wine. I knew this was the spot for us.” He named the vineyard ‘Descendientes De J. Palacios, after his father.
Álvaro Palacios Tasting Flight:
- La Montesa 2014 Rioja – 680,000 bottles produced
- Pétalos 2015 Bierzo – 314,000 bottles produced
- Villa de Corullon 2015 Corullón – 20,100 bottles produced
- Las Lamas 2014 Corullón – 3,500 bottles produced
- La Faraona 2015 Corullón – 1,700 bottles produced
- Camins del Priorat 2016 Priorat – 266,000 bottles produced
- Gratallops 2014 Priorat – 18,400 bottles produced
- Finca Dofi 2015 Priorat – 25,000 bottles produced
- L’Ermita 2015 Priorat – 1,000 bottles produced
This seminar during the Vancouver International Wine Festival, held at The Vancouver Club and moderated by Anthony Gismondi, truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was able to try these incredible wines and hear Palacios himself talk about the passion he feels towards his wine and his land. Some of his wines are so rare, delicious, and collectible that they cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a bottle.
It was a distinct pleasure to sit in a room and listen to Palacios take us on a journey through Spain for 90 minutes. Quite honestly, no one in the room, including myself, wanted the seminar and tasting to come to an end.