Decanter’s 2015 Man of the Year, Alvaro Palacios, the living legend of Rioja.
You know the names Robert Mondavi and André Tchelistcheff, giants of the wine world whose many honors include Decanter Magazine’s Man of the Year Award. If your passion for wine extends to Spanish reds, you probably know the name of Decanter’s 2015 Man of the Year, Alvaro Palacios, the living legend of Rioja, and recipient of last year’s Institute of Masters of Wine Winemaker Award. Decanter says, “Palacios is altering the viticultural landscape in his vineyards in Rioja Baja, and is creating a new, distinctive style.” That style is on full display in the 2012 Palacios Remondo Propiedad Rioja, which James Suckling adorned with a 93-point crown. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate went a step higher with 93+ points for the “delicious explosion of pure red berries.” That such history-making mastery can be bottled is wonder enough. That Wine Access secured 15 cases available for less than $45 per bottle should send our clients passionate about their Rioja into something of a frenzy.
The death of patriarch Jose Palacios in 2000 returned prodigal son Alvaro to the hallowed family fields, but Alvaro had already made his name elsewhere. When Alvaro bought Priorat’s L’Ermita vineyard in 1993, the region’s reputation was at an all-time low, the prospects dim. Before long, L’Ermita became one of Spain’s most sought-after labels. At the behest of his nephew Ricardo, Alvaro did it again with Bierzo in 1999, transforming the underappreciated region into an international powerhouse.
A key to Alvaro’s success in each region he’s revived has been staying true to the land’s traditions. The 2012 Palacios Remondo Propiedad Rioja catches this award-winning philosophy in action. 2012’s unusually hot, dry conditions — Alvaro called them “Mediterranean in character” — produced dramatically low yields of estate-grown Grenache that demanded patience. Alvaro listened to their needs, and his intuition led to the creation of a harmonious expression of pure fruit and silky-smooth elegance.
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