James Suckling 94
JAMES SUCKLING TOP 100 WINES OF SPAIN 2020 #66
"Gorgeous, bright fruit with raspberries, black cherries and lavender with some schist. Its medium-bodied with very polished and integrated tannins that go on and on."
Wine Advocate 91
"The regional blend 2019 Camins del Priorat is a blend of 35 Garnacha, 24 Syrah, 17 Cabernet Sauvignon, 11 Cariena, 10 Merlot and 3 other varieties. The grapes were destemmed, lightly crushed and then put to ferment with the natural yeasts in a combination of stainless steel, oak and concrete vats. After fermentation, it matured in barrel and oak vats for four months. This wine showcases the power and concentration of 2019, an extraordinarily warm and dry year, but the wine has great finesse. There are more balsamic aromas from the Bordeaux varieties, which incredibly didn't dehydrate that year: the leaves took a long time to turn yellow. There are notes of licorice and something balsamic. This is juicy and chewy, powerful, with muscle, pungent and intense but with great balance and very clean. This is the most modern and international of their wines, with a showy profile. A triumph over the conditions of the vintage."~Luis Gutierrez
Alvaro PalaciosView all from Alvaro Palacios
If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of "The New Spain," it is Alvaro Palacios. His L'Ermita is widely considered--along with Peter Sisseck's Dominio de Pingus-- to be the most important Spanish wine in a generation. One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja's respected Palacios Remondo, Alvaro studied enology in Bordeaux, while working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Ch. Pétrus. He credits his tenure at Pétrus for much of his winemaking philosophy and for showing him "the importance of great wines." Alvaro could have returned to the security of his family's domaine. Instead, he was drawn to remote and wildly beautiful Priorat, 60 miles from Barcelona, which had been one of Spain's important pre-Phylloxera wine regions. With its unique terroir of steep hills and terraces Alvaro believed that here he could make a wine that was like a cross between Pétrus and Grange. He acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990. Then, in 1993, he located what is now regarded as the crown jewel property in Priorat, a precipitous, northeast-facing Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist that had been planted between 1900 and 1940. Alvaro named it for a small chapel, or hermitage, that sits atop the hill - L'Ermita.
L'Ermita - from a dramatically steep 2-hectare north-facing vineyard of 70 year old, head pruned vines. The wine is mostly Garnacha with a touch of Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnacha Blanca.
Finca Dofí--from Alvaro's original vineyard, Finca Dofí is all Garnacha. Like L'Ermita, Dofí combines power and richness with great breed and finesse. In most Priorat tastings that do not include L'Ermita, Dofí is the clear winner.
Gratallops--Alvaro has been instrumental in introducing the Burgundian ideas of Villages and Cru to Priorat. In 2006, he began to elaborate separately a collection of old vineyards from throughout the township of Gratallops to extend and commercialize this idea. The wine is a blend of Garnacha, Carinyena (Carignan) and Cabernet.
Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes"--While originally conceived of as a value wine, Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes" has slowly evolved into the essence of what makes Priorat special. Drawing on 15+ years of study, Terraces is sourced from many of the region's steepest and oldest vineyards--many of them north-facing to avoid the intense afternoon sun. With the 2007 vintage, Alvaro acknowledged Les Terrasses' "graduation" by adding the "Velles Vinyes" designation to the label. This wine is a blend of Garnacha and Carinyena (Carignan).
The evolving seriousness of Terrasses eventually left room for a new wine, Camins del Priorat. Alvaro had never wanted to be known solely for expensive "trophy" wines, and with Camins, he found the opportunity to create something special. Drawing on his wealth of vineyard sources, Alvaro is aiming to produce a wine that is affordably priced, but which also stays true to his vision of Priorate powerful but elegant, approachable but restrained. The wine is a blend of Garnacha, Carinyena (Carignan), Cabernet and Syrah."