Alvaro Palacios makes complex and compelling wine in 3 very different Spanish wine regions – Priorat, Bierzo, and Rioja. The Wines of Alvaro Palacios – Part 1- Priorat discusses Alvaro’s Priorat wines, and this post will cover the wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo.
Located in northwestern Spain, Bierzo has all the ‘ingredients’ Alvaro Palacios believes are necessary to create great wine – steep slopes, distinctive terroirs, ancient vines – so in 1999, he and his nephew, Ricardo Perez, started to make wine there. The project was named Descendientes de J. Palacios, as an homage to José Palacios, Alvaro’s father and Ricardo’s grandfather.
The area is beautiful. The verdant landscape and castle-studded hills undoubtedly contributed to Alvaro and Ricardo’s love for the region. The soil in vineyards in the western part of the region, the location of the Descendientes de J. Palacios’ vineyards, are ancient, mineral-rich slate which are helpful in regulating water.
The Mencia grape is the star of Bierzo. For a long time, Mencia was thought to be directly related to Cabernet Franc, but DNA profiling has recently proven that this is not the case. They did, however, discover that Mencia is the same as Jaen, a grape variety that can be found growing in Dao, Portugal. The reputation of Mencia is on the rise, and some believe that it is one of Spain’s 4 greatest grape varieties. Mencia can be made in a variety of different styles, from easy-drinking fruity wines to more complex, long-lived versions.
Tasting Notes of Decendientes de J. Palacios:
Petalos del Bierzo 2010: Alvaro described the cool and dry 2010 vintage as being “the vintage of enchantment”. The grapes are from 4 villages in the region and are a blend of both purchased and estate fruit. This may be an entry level wine, but it definitely shows the quality of all Palacios’ wines with a fragrance of violets, blueberry, plum, and a minerality that is reminiscent of lead pencils. A creamy texture and fuzzy tannins on the palate and a good length. $26
Villa de Corullon, Bierzo 2009: Grapes are from steeply-sloped vineyards in the village of Corullon. Complex aromas of dried herbs, dark raspberry, cherry, blueberry, rose petals, and cinnamon. Very fruit forward on the palate with quite concentrated fruit flavours, a firm structure and a long length. $49
Las Lamas, Bierzo 2009: Grapes are from the single vineyard of Las Lamas located about 750 m above sea level. This vineyard is very low yielding at around 9 hl/ha which, in part explains the price of this wine. Intense perfume of ripe dark plum, juicy blackberry, spice and flowers. Very concentrated with a velvetty texture and a lingering length. $116