Álvaro Palacios is one of a group of winemakers credited with putting Priorat back on the viticultural map. After studying winemaking in Bordeaux and a subsequent stint working at Château Petrus, Álvaro decided not to return to his family winery in Rioja. Instead, he followed a group of intrepid winemakers, including René Barbier, to the rugged and forgotten region of Priorat. This was the 1980s. Nowadays, Álvaro makes some of the most highly regarded and sought-after wines in the region, whether it’s from his Finca Dofí vineyard (the first vineyard he acquired, in 1990) or the region’s most famous wine, L’Ermita, the first wine to use the Gran Vinya Classificada (Grand Cru equivalent) qualification.
Bierzo is a little known region in Spain producing some exceptional wines. Palacios use very old Mencia vines to produce the very pretty Petalos wine. A fresh and fruity red with a heady floral character on the nose. The palate is extremely elegant with a classy touch of graphite on the finish. Try pairing with a charcuterie board or a medley of roasted vegetables.
The regional red 2020 Pétalos comes from 90 hectares of vineyards, mainly from Corullón and Villafranca del Bierzo and the districts of Viariz, Hornija, Valtuille de Abajo and Otero. It mixes expositions, altitudes and soils and wants to paint a picture of Bierzo in the warm 2020 vintage. They reckon it's 92% Mencía with 5% other red grapes (Alicante Bouschet, Gran Negro, Pan y Carne and Negreda) and 3% whites (Valenciana, Jerez and Godello) with an average yield of 26 hectoliters per hectare. The grapes were picked from August 28th to September 24th and fermented partly destemmed in stainless steel and oak vats with indigenous yeasts for 43 days with a slow malolactic fermentation that lasted two months. The wine matured in barrel for around eight months (malolactic was fast, and the wines were put in barrel early) and was bottled unclarified, unfiltered and non-stabilized with cold. It has good ripeness with 14% alcohol (their upper limit) and moderate acidity at 4.6 grams (of tartaric acid). It's a little more fruit-driven, a vintage of sun, jovial and juicy, approachable and round with very fine, slightly powdery tannins. The fruit is darker than in the 2019. This is still young, and, as it happens with even the most approachable wines from the region, it should be even better in a couple of years. I tasted it again in mid-December, and the wine is showing better and better; time in bottle has done it some good, and the wine has settled and is getting more balanced. I don't feel the sun now; it's harmonious and more serious, juicy and tasty. A little better than anticipated.
93+/100 - Luis Gutierrez, The Wine Advocate