This is my last instalment on the work of Alvaro Palacios in Spain. In my previous posts, I covered his work on the Priorat and Bierzo. On this final post, i will cover his recent work in the Rioja. By the way, the timing on this post is perfect. Alvaro Palacios was named man of the year 2015 by the wine magazine Decanter.
After the death of his father in 2000, Palacios took the reigns of his family’s property and winery in Rioja, Palacios Remondo. Like his previous work in Bierzo and Priorat, Alvaro wants to create wines that raise an aesthetic emotion. Here i am quoting the words on his interview by Decanter magazine. According to him, he wants to pioneer a new style of Rioja by grafting Garnacha buds into Tempranillo vines and trellised vines into bush vines.
The Palacios Remondo Estate and vineyards are situated at high altitudes in the eastern part of the region. Alvaro uses mostly Garnacha, which has found its perfect place in Rioja Baja, as the dominant grape in his cuvees. This makes Riojas of a more Mediterranean character.
La Vendimia is a joven style of Rioja. This is a wine that has been aged in a mix of used and new oak tanks, american and french in style for 4 months. This is a blend of 50% Garnacha and 50% Tempranillo. The grapes are sourced from high altitude vineyards of 1800 feet. Grapes are organically grown for this and his other wines. Vendimia which means just vintage is the entry level of wine for the Remondo estate.
Palacios La Vendimia 2013. SAQ Code: 10360317. Price: $17.95
Violet and ruby. On the nose aromas of dark plums, raspberry-strawberry jam with touches of eucalyptus, licorice, and
brown iron encrusted earth. On the mouth, full body. Dry with a refreshing acidity. Cool red and black berries flavors
with spices. A touch of garrique. Generous with a good tannic profile. Medium lenght finish. 92\100.
On the other hand, La Montesa is a field blend of 70% Garnacha, 25% Tempranillo and the rest comprising Mazuelo. It is a wine made with a long maceration of 23 days and the wine has been aged in new and used 90% French and 10% American oak barrels. Palacios describes the 2011 La Montesa as ‘a wine that flows velvety smooth.
Palacios La Montesa 2011. SAQ Code: 10556993. Price: $19.95
Concentrated aromas of redcurrants, dry blood with minerals and aromatic herbs. Brings to mind a californian pinot noir In
the mouth, full body, with a crisp acidity and ripe tannins. Silky mouthfeel and very ample in the mouth. Long in the
mouth with an aftertaste that bring to vanilla bean and coffee. Drink now or keep for the 5-10 years. 92\100.
Palacios also makes in the Remondo estate, the wines Plácet Valtomelloso and Propiedad. The former is the only white wine that Alvaro makes in his property. It is made with Viura. Plácet meaning to please. Propriedad is a pure Garnacha made from vineyards ranging from 25 to 90 years of age. The fruit sourced across five unique vineyards that are represented by five gold stars on the wine’s new label. The unique soil is composed of sediments that stem from the Quaternary Era, consisting of volcanic ophite and sandstone pebbles, quartz and white carbonates. According to Palacios, this is a very special soil that has been making legendary wines for hundred wines. I have not been able yet to taste these two wines, but plan to do so in the near future.
What lies ahead for Remondo in the future?. Palacios have been working for a decade now in a wine called Valmira. This wine is made from 100% Garnacha grown in a three-hectare single vineyard that bears the same name at Palacios’ family estate in the village of Alfaro in Rioja Baja. Over the last 10 years, Palacios has been busy grafting low bush vines with Garnacha and uprooting the Tempranillo planted in the vineyard. According to him, it will be like a Gevrey-Chambertin in soul and character. It will be problably be like L’Ermita in Priorat or La Faraona in Bierzo. It will be problably carry too a hefty price tag since only 1300 bottles have been made for the 2013 vintage. In an interview for the Drink Business last year, Alvaro has stated that “Garnacha is the queen grape of Rioja Baja – it’s been there for centuries. Producers were wrong to uproot it for Tempranillo in order to make a quick buck,” Will this wine become a timeless classic in the Riojan wine tradition?. Only time will tell, but if it carries the Alvaro signature, more than half of the odyssey is done.