Alvaro Palacios is not exactly a new face in the wine scene – Alvaro has helped revolutionise the Spanish wine industry by making rich, complex wines in Priorat. His first wine there, 1995 L’Ermita, gained him recognition as one of the world's most inspired and dedicated winemakers (Alvaro produces two other compelling Priorat wines Finca Dofí and Les Terrasses). He continued to make waves with his involvement in other Spanish appellations, such as Ribera del Duoro and Rioja.
Palacios comes from the large and esteemed Rioja winemaking family of Bodegas Palacios Remondo. In his early 20s Alvaro Palacios interned in Bordeaux at the side of Christian Moueix, the celebrated winemaker of Pomerol châteaus of Pétrus and Trotanoy. Upon his return to Spain he originally decided against getting involved in the family business and instead he pursued his own ventures where he would have the freedom to make distinctive, top-quality wines. His success in Priorat inspired him to search again for something new, this time putting his faith in the potential of Bierzo.
Bierzo's principal grape is the obscure, indigenous red variety Mencía. While Bierzo is a relatively new wine appellation (a Denominación de Origen since 1989), it has a wealth of very old vines, planted on extremely steep hillsides, and in this respect it much resembles the Priorat region.
Palacios with his nephew Ricardo Perez (who also spent time in Bordeaux) established Descendientes de J. Palacios in 1998 in the village of Villafranca del Bierzo. They named the estate in honour of Alvaro's father who passed away in 2000.
Álvaro Palacios and his nephew Ricardo are known for having pioneered the revival of the Bierzo region in northwest Spain. Pétalos – made with Mencía, Bierzo’s signature grape – is sourced from old vines which produce intensely concentrated wines. The 2016 vintage was warmer than ‘16, therefore producing a more powerful wine. It has a dense core of plum and blackberry fruit as well as a little sour red cherry and pepper spice. Notes of violet and dried thyme linger on the finish, along with a thread of granitic minerality. Pair with Middle-Eastern mezze, steak or mushroom risotto.