|Alvaro addresses the crowd|
Monday, March 26, 2012
Report from ... Alvaro Palacios wines - March 19, 2012
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club sounds like a high falutant place, and it might be, but the room we tried these wines in overlooked the sidewalk contruction in mid-town Toronto. Here we learned lots about Spain, it's terroir, it's history and the wines of it's past and present from one of the innovators of the new Spanish wine revolution, Alvaro Palacios. With Alvaro leading the tasting we tried 10 wines from the three regions throughout Spain in which he makes wine: Rioja, Bierzo and Priorat.
Rioja Wines ... Palacios Remondo:
2009 Placet 'Valtomelloso' ($32.00) - baked fruit, exotic flavours, has some decent acidity. Made from 100% Viura.
2009 La Montesa ($21.00) - Montesa is the name of the vineyard; it is planted with young vines that were put in the ground in the 80's so there is lots of green harvesting done to thin out the eventual crop. Alvaro told us that in general vines of over 50+ years self-regulate their own production, but because of the nutirent rich soil and the vigor of the plants those under that age will produce lots of fruit if not attended to. This is Alvaro's most important wine because of the size of production ... 1000-2000 barrels per year. This vintage is 65% Grenache, with some Tempranillo and Masuelo with 12 months in barrel, mainly French with a hint of American. Nose is red fruited with hints of pomelo skin ... lovely red fruit on the palate with a little bit of tannins, that are silky and lush in the mouth. Juicy and flavourful. (****)
Alvaro's philosophy: "In a less than ideal vintage I prefer to do one wine instead of two - make a better Montesa than a poor Propiedad"
2008 La Propiedad ($39.00) - makes 50,000 to 100,000 bottles of this wine from very old vines. The make up is 70% Grenache, with the rest being Tempranillo, aged in 100% new oak. Black and blue fruit, lots of pepper and spice, and you can smell the minerality. Almost creamy smooth in the mouth with dark chocolate, bramble, blackberry, and black cherry. Good weight and mouth-feel. (****+)
Next vintage of Propiedad (2010) - will be 92% Grenache. Alvaro loves the Grenache grape because is it very much a part of Spanish history.
Bierzo Wines ... Descendientes de J. Palacios
2010 was a glorious vintage in Spain, "the kind of vintage that happens twice a decade, sometimes only once," Alvaro said.
2010 Petalos del Bierzo ($26.00) - a regional blend that has a little mentia and some white grapes mixed into the blend; aged 12 months in barrel - 350,000 bottles are produced. Red fruit and raspberry jam, hint of floral. Floral comes through on the palate, there is also a chalky note that carries the red fruit and hint of anise on the finish. (****)
2009 Villa de Corullon ($49.00) - grapes grown in the village of Corullon, there are 30 hectares in total and very steep; it is rare to have 30 hectares of continuous vineyard in this region so it is "constellation-style", as Alvaro called it, meaning a plot here and a plot there scattered about like stars, 16,000 bottles produced. Black licorice, hint of floral and blackberry ... lots of mineral notes on the mouth, red and black fruit, good acidity and nice tannins. (****+)
2009 Las Lamas ($116.00) - delicate sweet fruit with a little grit, raspberry, strawberry, thick and concentrated of fruit, nice flavour in this single vineyard wine. (****+)
Alvaro Palacios (Priorat region)
Priorat means prairie
2010 Camins del Priorat ($26.00) - perfumed, floral, wet rocks, sweet grass ... sweet strawberry, touch of rocky mineral, chalky tannnins. (****).
Camins is made from grapes grown in 7 different villages from Grenache and Carignan with a hint of Cabernet Sauvignon with 8 months of ageing in barrel. Alvaro hinted that it was hard to make this kind of wine because you need lots of growers, lots of small plots and plantings.
2010 Les Terrasses ($45.00) - same 7 villages as Camins, though older vines are used, and more Carignan, ages 12+ months in barrel depending on the vintage. Deep rich dark fruit, chocolate and red/black fruit, plums, follows into the mouth and is just lovely with hints of chalkiness on the finish, which should smooth out in the next few years. Delicious blackberry and violets on the finish. (**** 1/2)
Great Quote: "I'll tell you something, I don't know" (asked about the amount of time his wines can be aged)
2009 Finca Dofi ($90.00) - made from mostly young vines, planted personally by Alvaro in 1992 and 1996, with a density of 7200 vines per hectare; first vintage of this wine was in 1999. Juicy of fruit, lots of dark fruit, strawberry and mineral notes. (****+) 80% Grenache with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. By 2011 it will be 95% Grenache with 5% Carignan ... moving towards the classic version of Priorat wines which is Carignan dominant.
2010 Vi de la Vila Gratallops ($66.00 - barrel sample) - 8000-9000 bottles, 60% Grenache, a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, but very little. Wine will be bottled in about 2 months ... milk chocolate and raspberry, deep plum, hint of cinnamon ... beauty of fruit, rich robust and really tasty ... (no mark because of barrel sample; but it would be high on the scale if it remains like this)
Other Quotes and facts ...
"Priorat wines are not for weak people - they have a strength, and are for people with a lust for life and have things to celebrate"
17,000 hectares were planted in Priorat prior to the phylloxera pest coming to Spain ... everything was replanted after phylloxera ... and then the Spanish civil war decimated everything (wine and vineyard wise) and Rioja became the main region, many vineyards in other places were abandoned. When Alvaro arrived in 1989 there were only 650 hectares ... now 1100 hectares are planted.