Rafael Palacios is the brother of Spain’s leading winemaker and Priorat stalwart Alvaro Palacios. It should come as no surprise that the family genius, enthusiasm, and attention to detail is also evidenced in Rafael’s wines. Whereas the Palacios family made its name in Rioja, and Alvaro has subsequently achieved world-wide recognition for his vineyards in the appellation of Priorat, Rafael has headed to the green north-west Atlantic-influenced vines of the DO of Valdeorras. Since starting his own winery in 2004, Rafael Palacios has fast become one of Spain’s pre-eminent producers of white wine. His 32 parcels of Godello, which are spread over 19.5 hectares in the Val do Bibei in Valdeorras, Galicia, produce some of Spain’s most interesting white wines. The vines are planted on steep hills turned into terraces buttressed by stones. Rafa’s viticulture is sensitive to the fragile nature of these old terraces, and he has adapted his approach to ensure these magnificent structures are preserved. His viticulture is low intervention, with some of the older plots (or ‘sortes’ in Galician) being farmed biodynamically.
The jewel here is the white variety Godello, which is now achieving recognition similar to that latterly afforded to Albarino and Verdejo. Sandy soils with granite substratum allied to historical terraced vineyards add up to hard work, small yields, and a concomitant high level of quality.