Alvaro Palacios is one of nine children born into a respected Rioja wine producer Palacios Remondo. He decided to study enology in Bordeaux and after graduation worked at Petrus. He eventually returned to Spain where he worked for a period as a barrel salesman getting the opportunity to travel throughout Spain’s wine regions.
During his travels he fell in love with many growing regions with vast histories in wine and places with a spiritual connection. He eventually settled on the Priorat as the place to start. This is a region that has a wine history dateing back to the 12th century when the Carthusian monks set up terrances painstakingly in this very rugged terrain.
In 1989, Alvaro as a member of the “Gang of Five” made his first wine and that group of 5 producers put the Priorat on the international wine world map. Alvaro acquired his first vineyard in 1990 and named it Finca Dofi. In 1993, he located and purchased his crown jewel a northeast facing steep vineyard on schist planted between 1900 and 1940. Because the top of the vineyard has an ancient hermitage he named this vineyard L’Ermita.
From the very beginning, Alvaro was strict about his viticultural practices following organic methods and using mules. Over time as he learned more and more about the region, its geography and history he began to trust in the wisdom on the monks and their methods and the varieties they planted. The heritage of these clones of Garnacha, Carinyena and some white grapes mixed in became a critical element in expressing this terroir. While power is a part of the Priorat…so too is a sense of elegance or finesse.
Today Alvaro’s wines are a beautiful expression of power and elegance. Finca Dofi is mostly Garnacha with a small part of Carinyena and also a touch of white varieties. The wine ages in large French foudre.
In 2015, Alvaro was able to acquire a 100+ year old plot of Garnacha in Bellmunt called Les Aubagetes. These vines have in his opinion some of the most amazing clonal stock. From this cru he produces about 1,500 bottles of wine. His second cru is called La Baixada and this is the north facing ridgeline of Finca Dofi that he decided was worthy of separation in 2018.
Alvaro has been very active in the setting up of Burgundian style village designations in the appellation laws of the Priorat. In 2006, to this end, he began making a Gratallops bottling which is the first of such village designates and this is the central village of the region and the home of his cellar.
Les Terrasses while originally conceived as a “value” wine, it has evolved into a statement about what Alvaro believes makes the Priorat so special – steep, old vines and for his wines, north facing slopes to be a bit cooler than the other exposures allowing for a top introduction to the great wines of this region. With Les Terrasses becoming slowly a much more serious wine, that left room for that “value” wine and Camins del Priorat was created. While this is a great entry to the region and the top more expensive wines this wine is still a tremendous bargain showcasing concentration, elegance, approachability and restraint.