Alvaro Palacios is one of the stalwarts of the new wave of Spanish winemakers. One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja’s respected Palacios Remondo, Alvaro studied oenology in Bordeaux, while working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Château 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 (L'Ermita), 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.
Food & Wine: Reimagining Rioja with Spain's Most Famous Winemaker
Masters of Wine: Alvaro Palacios wines Winemakers' Winemaker Award 2016
Wine Spectator: Featured Winemaker, Alvaro Palacios
Decanter.com: Alvaro Palacios, Spanish Wanderer
Received Institute of Masters of Wine Winemakers’ Winemaker Award in 2016:
“This Award has the unique distinction of being voted for by winemakers. All of them as Masters of Wine are committed to excellence, and with this Award they recognise in Àlvaro Palacios’ work as a winemaker his own continued commitment to excellence.”
Named Decanter Man of the Year in 2015:
“Palacios embodies, with his wines, the spirit of the new Spain, and has inspired a new generation of winemakers.”
Wine Spectator 10/2016:
“During the past 30 years, he has made brilliant wines from Rioja, Priorat and Bierzo, always seeking out old vines and focusing on distinctive terroir.”
“It’s worth remembering that Palacios took a big gamble on untested places and grapes - namely Bierzo and Mencia - at a time when Spain was chasing more obvious paths to revival. That decision helped to revive Spain’s belief in its indigenous wine culture.”
“With bodegas in Rioja, Priorat and Bierzo, Palacios is one of the defining personalities in Spanish wine today. In just 20 years, he has established a formidable reputation as a dynamic pioneer, generating global praise for his wines – in particular, those from the forgotten regions of Spain he has been so active in promoting.”