The why, the what and the how of...

Descendientes de J. Palacios

The arrival of Álvaro Palacios in Bierzo, along with his nephew Ricardo Pérez, at the end of the 1990s really caused a big stir in a region that was starting to hone in on expressing the subtle personality and quality potential of the local red variety, Mencia.

Decanter Man of the Year in 2015, Álvaro Palacios is one of nine children born to the owners of the Rioja estate, Palacios Remondo. He studied and received his qualifications in oenology in Bordeaux, while working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Pétrus. Palacios could have just joined the ranks at the family’s domaine in Rioja but instead, in the 1980s, he decided to seek out the potential he believed resided elsewhere in Spain, starting in Priorat.

In 1998, the joint venture began as Álvaro and Ricardo set out in search of Bierzo’s finest old vineyards. Located on old, schist-rich vineyards on steep slopes at high altitudes in the vicinity of Bierzo’s western border, is a little town called Corullón, and this is where they focussed their attention. With its monastic past, Corullón’s location is right in the heart of the Camino de Santiago. Ricardo embraced biodynamic viticulture from the start, with the aim of crafting the most balanced, transparent and delicate wines possible. The resulting wines highlight the terroir personality of this exciting region and produce Burgundy-style wines.

They make five remarkable wines. Firstly, the Pétalos del Bierzo, which is their largest production and is Mencia assembled from old hillside and hilltop vines across Bierzo’s western edge. This wine is about approachability and finesse. Villa de Corullón (around 17,000 bottles produced) is made from old-vine Mencia sourced from over 200 small plots in and around the town. This is more serious and generous and clearly illustrates the quality and uniqueness of the area. The estate also produces three magnificent single-vineyard Mencia wines: Moncerbal (2,000 bottles), Las Lamas (2,000 bottles) and La Faraona (600 bottles), each reflecting their compelling terroirs.

These are some of the most exciting wines being made in Spain today and for the moment are still somewhat under the radar but won’t be for much longer.

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