An Absolute Rioja Steal
“It does feel like a more expensive wine.” The review from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate essentially declares the 92-point Palacios Remondo “La Montesa” Rioja Crianza to be the very definition of value. According to Decanter, their 2015 “Man of the Year” Alvaro Palacios “is creating a new, distinctive style” with his Garnacha-rich Riojas. The man knows what he is doing: Palacios’s Wine Advocate 100-point 2014 La Faraona Bierzo commands $1,150 per bottle, while the 2013 l’Ermita Priorat is a collectable at $2,000 — both are considered two of Spain’s greatest wines.
After studying oenology in Bordeaux and working with Jean-Pierre Moueix at Château Pétrus, Alvaro Palacios took a circuitous route home to the winery where he was born: On the way back to Rioja, he stopped off to revolutionize no fewer than two Spanish wine regions.
The first was Priorat, where Palacios developed the Garnacha from l’Ermita’s vertiginous hillsides into a cult wine that fetches a cool $2,000 per bottle. Then, in the late 90s, he turned his attention to Bierzo, making wines from the unsung Mencia variety that now command the respect and prices befitting Spain’s most prestigious terroirs. Unsurprisingly, Palacios has racked up honors as Decanter’s 2015 “Man of the Year” and the Institute of Masters of Wine’s 2016 “Winemaker of the Year.”
Palacios’s outstanding 92-point “La Montesa” shows how, like in Priorat and Bierzo, Alvaro is “altering the viticultural landscape” in Rioja Baja. Treating the Garnacha that thrives in eastern Rioja’s mediterranean climate to a year in French and American oak, the wine that stunned 92 points out of The Wine Advocate is evidence of Palacios’s acumen, at the value end of the spectrum.