The 2019 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2021 Spain supplement article Spain’s driving winemakers (see blue link below for the review).
Alvaro Palacios, Camins del Priorat 2019 - November 2021 Decanter review
Alvaro Palacios, whose family owns the prestigious Rioja Bodega, Palacios Remondo, spent 2 years working under Château Pétrus winemaker Jean-Pierre Moueix before setting up on his own in the Priorat wine region of Spain in 1989. Invited by a group of local producers, when he arrived in Gratallops, he set out to produce world-class wines by using fruit from extremely low-yielding old vines and by applying ultra-modern winemaking techniques.
The first wine he made was the 1989 Finca Dofi and then L’Ermita, one of Spain’s finest wines (and certainly most expensive), followed in 1993. Cabernet Sauvignon 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.
Blend of 55% Garnacha, 15% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 8% Cariñena.
Camins del Priorat is a wine that’s regularly praised by Jancis Robinson MW for its “good value”, this regional blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Merlot is matured in oak for around four to six months. The result is a dark, chewy, muscular and highly modern red, but one that manages to be pretty and deeply drinkable at the same time. Crammed with crème de cassis, blackberries, blueberries, fig, dark chocolate, liquorice, balsamic, coffee beans, dried flowers and dry beach pebbles, this is serious stuff for cold nights and big, rich meals.