Alvaro Palacios and Jamie

A couple of weeks ago acclaimed Spanish Winemaker Alvaro Palacios was in Toronto to present his wines at an intimate tasting at Toronto’s Spoke Club. Alvaro and I sat down to discuss his wines and ended up chatting for quite some time. Despite the fact that Alvaro also makes wines in Bierzo and Rioja, in this podcast we focus upon Alvaro’s history and his wines from Priorat.

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2008 Bodegas Palacios Remondo “La Vendemia” Rioja Spain
Bold raspberry and blackcurrant notes meld with a garrigue-like spiciness. Open a good hour before serving and swish in a big glass or decant for optimum sipping and chase away dull December days – Malcolm Jolley

2006 Bodegas Palacios Remondo “Montesa” Crianza Rioja Spain
The nose leads to raisined dried fruit, but the wine is in no way dried out. Oak is apparent but by no means dominative.. The palate is solid, smooth  and substantial, with structure underpinning the fruit at all times. A very well-crafted Crianza Rioja. A very surprising finish for its relatively modest price. A real steal actually.

2007 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Pétalos” Bierzo Spain
Having had the pleasure of tasting this in the previous vintage I was very happy to see it in the line up at the Palacios tasting. The first thing that hits you is the most attractive floral bouquet… hence the “Petalos” moniker. If you are new to the red wines of Bierzo I wholeheartedly recommend this wine as your entry point. Whilst not exhibiting some of the complexities inherent to the single vineyard Mencias, this wine shows exceptionally well, with black raspeberries and a great expression of pure dark fruit. Even at this level Palacios produces wines with a substantial minerality. Very good indeed.

2007 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Villa de Corullón” Bierzo Spain
As with all of the Palacios Bierzo wines this is made by Alvaro’s nephew Ricardo Palacios. I spoke with him about his wines in a previous podcast that you can find here. This is the first in the Descendientes range that is produced biodynamically and I feel that this is instantly recognisable on the palate where a purity and austerity can be immediately detected. Where the Petalos was “giving” this wine shows a little more restraint when it comes to fruit. This wine shows wonderfully after a decant, with cherry fruit being most dominant. I love the fruit/acid balance on this bottling. The tannins provide a firm structure but don’t get in the way of one’s enjoyment of the fruit. Despite not being a single vineyard wine this shows off classical Bierzo minerality with considerable panache.

2007 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Moncerbal(Single Vineyard) Bierzo Spain
Made from 100% Mencia, the flagship red grape of Bierzo. Winemaker Alvaro Palacios makes superb, “spiritual”,  “sensual” and  “dynamic” wines with the  “substance in the freshness”, perfumed, and also mineral, with lots of character. This is a single vineyard tinto with aromas of raspberry, floral, with underlying sweet musk and mineral-rich earth nuances. Medium to full bodied and juicy, with explosive flavours and medium intensity tannins, fresh, minutes-long finish – Zoltan Szabo

2007 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Las Lamas” (Single Vineyard) Bierzo Spain
Showing a little more sweetly on the palate that the “Moncerbal” I felt that despite the unmistakable presence of considerable minerality, the wine was not exhibiting quite the same mastery of balance. A delightful wine nonetheless that I would love to revisit in a year or so. I found this to be a little too tightly wound for immediate consumption though.

2007 Alvaro Palacios”Camins de Priorat” Priorat Spain
A new release for Palacios from some of his “younger” vines (read 15 years old or thereabouts). Carignan dominant (Samso is the local synonym), this wines is some bloody good juice, and at around $26 a superb way to get into the oft-prohibitively expensive wines of the Priorat region. French oak is apparent but not in any way obtrusive and sits comfortably with the dark berry fruit.

2007 Alvaro Palacios”Les Terrasses” Priorat Spain
Until the “Camins” arrived on the scene this bottling used to be Alvaro’s entry level from Priorat. I have enjoyed this wine for many years and have always thought much of it. This vintage was no exception. Dark berries and cherries fill the glass and lead to a palate that to me tastes quite contemporary (although Alvaro make take issue with me on that one!) A good assertive tannic structure backs up the fruit and makes for a most enjoyable glass of Priorat wine.

2007 Alvaro Palacios”Finca Dofi” Priorat Spain
Here Alvaro does make a concession to the North American palate with his usual Priorat suspects being augmented by a little Cab, Merlot and Syrah. Don;t let that put you off though. This wine is no New World slouch. The non-natives add a very attractive sensuality to this bottling. Again, this is a wine that needs some time in bottle to show at its best as right now I find the tannins a little too tight and astringent, but this does show considerable potential for the near future. The finish is delightful with that essential Priorat minerality that Palacios does better than any.