If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of “The New Spain,” it's Alvaro Palacios. His L’Ermita is widely considered — along with Peter Sisseck’s Dominio de Pingus — to be the most important new Spanish wine of the modern era.
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. But instead, he was drawn to the remote and seductive 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 evoked both 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.
In 1995, the flow of critical praise for Alvaro’s L’Ermita began, and it hasn’t stopped. But while L’Ermita has received most of the attention, Alvaro produces several other wines compelling in their own rights: Finca Dofí and Les Terrasses.
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, Terrasses 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.
89 points Wine Advocate:
The 2010 Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 45% Samso, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah (60- to 90-year-old vines) cropped at just 10 hectoliters per hectare, raised in 20% new oak plus one-, two- and three-year-old barrels. It has a well-defined, opulent bouquet of creme de cassis, blueberry and violets that blossom from the glass. The palate is full-bodied with a dense core of ripe blackberry, spicebox, white pepper and a touch of fennel. It sports great density and thrust, and while it cares little for subtlety, it offers great purity on the finish. Drink 2016-2025. #200Apr 2012