Country: Priorat - Spain
DECANTER MAN OF THE YEAR 2015
Alvaro Palacios is one of Spain's most prestigious and influential wine makers. Alvaro and his nine siblings were born into a wine making family, their father being the owner of Bodega Palacios Remondo. However, Alvaro honorably chose to carve out his own wine making destiny, and after studying at the University of Bordeaux he worked at Petrus in Pomerol for two years. He then went onto purchase his own vineyard in the Priorat region of Spain. Here, Alvaro has played a key role in the development of the Consejo Regulador, advocating the preservation of tradition, as well as devising a labeling system to distinguish terroir. Alvaro has also acquired vineyards in the lesser-known hillside region of Bierzo. Alvaro Palacios wines are some of the most sought after and expensive wines in Spain, and their worthiness is evident in the barrage of ridiculously high scores that they have received from the world's most respected wine critics.
A pioneer of this region, Álvaro Palacios arrived in Gratallops in 1989, invited by a group of local producers and intent on extracting the very best from its unique schist and slate soils.
The first wine made was the 1989 Finca Dofi and L’Ermita, one of Spain’s finest wines, followed in 1993. Cabernet and Syrah vines are planted in the richer soils of the valleys whilst old Garnacha and Samsó (Carignan) are rooted in the free draining slate soils on the hillsides. These old vines receive more than 3,000 hours of sun a year, less than 380 mm annual rainfall, are cooled by an inland wind and the influence of the nearby sea. The sobriety of the Mediterranean climate leaves a decisive mark on the character of its wines. The mountainous topography of the area has ensured cultivation methods have remained largely unchanged and horses are still employed in the steep vineyards. The result is wines with a rounded structure and fresh mineral quality. The flagship wine, L’Ermita, comes from a small 1.6 ha vineyard with a north-east exposure and is farmed organically. The vines here are very old, some reaching up to 100 years.