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.

The Wines:

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."

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Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2016
91  James Suckling 
James Suckling 91"A firm and silky red with lots of bright blue fruits and violet flower character. Medium body. Vivid finish. Excellent entry level Priorat."

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2015
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92  James Suckling 
James Suckling 92 "A fresh and enticing red showing raspberry, blueberry, herbal and floral undertones. Full body, an a ultra-silky texture and a fresh and beautiful finish. The entry-level wine of Alvaro Palacios, but this always shows delightful structure and quality."  "Camins del Priorat is a

Alvaro Palacios 'Les Terrasses VV' 2013
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93  Wine Advocate 
Wine Advocate 93 "The 2013 Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes, from a rainy year and a late harvest that resulted in perfect ripeness and low yields, is a blend of 55% Garnacha and 45% Cariñena. You might find labels and literature referring Cariñena to as Samsó, something that is wrong and creates

Alvaro Palacios 'Les Terrasses VV' 2011
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93  Wine Spectator 
Wine Spectator 93 WS TOP 100 2013 Rank 26 "A light texture carries racy, intense flavors in this expressive red, with bright cherry, licorice, mineral, garrigue and spice notes mingling over light tannins and buoyed by lively acidity. Balanced, focused and elegant, featuring a lingering finish.

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2009
94  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 91-94 "Alvaro Palacios established his namesake winery in 1989. The flagship LErmita made its debut in 1993. Finca Dofi and LErmita vineyards are farmed biodynamically. All of the wines are bottled without filtration. In 2008 Palacios was the last grower in Priorat to harvest,