Descendientes de Palacios, Villa de Corullon, Bierzo, Spain 2014

Corullon Descendientes Palacios.jpg
Corullon Descendientes Palacios.jpg

Descendientes de Palacios, Villa de Corullon, Bierzo, Spain 2014


"Hands down, one of the best (if not the best) vintages of Corullón. Bravo!" - The Wine Advocate, 95+ points

Alvaro Palacios is a titan of the Spanish wine industry and is generally known as the man responsible for some of the world’s most iconic wines. I prefer to think of him as a modern-day Don Quixote, a winemaker who wanders the Basque country in search of the forgotten beauty that his Spanish homeland has to offer, seeking to revive lost terroir, forgotten varieties and ancient vines. His greatest success story has been that of Priorat, which he singlehandedly put on the wine map (more about this below), but he has also done wonders for another region in the north-west, in fair Bierzo where we lay our scene. 

Few foreign tourists find their way to the small town of Villafranca del Bierzo in northwestern Spain as it is some way from anywhere the cheap airlines fly, but while it remains off the radar of most mainstream wine drinkers, there are a handful of producers who are making wines of such beauty and grace that they couldn’t help but be propelled onto the world stage. 

Arguably the best of them all is Descendientes de Palacios, a project between the aforementioned Alvaro Palacios and his nephew Ricardo Perez. They make seven wines in their range, but we think the pick of them all is the Corullon (which is both the name of the wine and the name of the main village around which Alvaro and Ricardo own and source their vines), a 100% Mencia sourced from 3 vineyards from 60-100 year old vines. It’s the epitome of silky smoothness, a wine without a hair out of place, which has just been awarded an impressive 95+ points in the Wine Advocate. Collector or hedonist, this would be a fantastic addition to your wine rack.

The Wine Advocate: “Cropped from a cooler vintage and, therefore, with a cooler profile, the village red (vino de villa in the new classification from the 2017 vintage), the 2014 Corullón, felt like a more complete version of 2013, clearly a more Atlantic (cooler) year, with notes of violets, lilies and pomegranate, really expressive, open and aromatic, more focused, precise, clean and with a palate that follows that same line, plus the verticality and minerality added by the slate soils. Hands down, one of the best (if not the best) vintages of Corullón. Bravo! 12,700 bottles produced. It was bottled in March 2016.” 95+ points

Alvaro Palacios… from Priorat to Bierzo, a legend made
As the seventh child to a large wine family from Rioja with over 350 years of winemaking before them, Alvaro Palacios was practically born in the vineyard. After studying enology in Bordeaux he went onto work with Jean-Pierre Moueix at Chateau Petrus and could easily have returned to the security of his family’s domaine in Rioja. He wanted to forge his own path, however, and traveled around Spain selling French barriques to winemakers while doing reconnaissance for his future plans. He eventually stumbled upon the largely abandoned Priorat region and promptly acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofi, and a few years later he located what is now regarded as the crown jewel property in Priorat, which he named L’Ermita. These wines are among the most sought-after and celebrated wines in the world (by collectors and wine critics alike). They fetch a pretty penny too; the 2014 L’Ermita received 98 points in the Wine Advocate and is currently selling for more than £1000 a bottle! 

As if completely revitalising one of Spain’s historical wine growing regions wasn’t enough, Alvaro went on to do it a second time. He had remained haunted by another remote area of great potential: Bierzo, in far Northwestern Spain. Bierzo, too, had all the ingredients to make great wine: precipitously steep schist and shale hillside vineyards; distinctive terroirs; and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of the local Mencía grape (called by some the Pinot Noir of Spain and which was believed to have been brought to Spain by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages) which was a variety that he was particularly keen to work with. So, he joined forces with his nephew, Ricardo Perez, who had come to share a belief in Bierzo’s potential. They found promising sites in a number of villages, but they felt the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo’s western border named Corullon where they created a tiny jewel of a domaine and dedicated it to Alvaro’s father, and Ricardo’s grandfather, who passed away in early 2000: Descendientes de Jose Palacios.

About Corullon
The small, scraggly vines eek out an existence on hillsides of almost solid rock (schist and shale), yield very little fruit, but what they do give under the patient hands of Palacios and Perez is something quite special. Despite these somewhat austere conditions, Palacios and Perez farm the vineyard biodynamically. All work in the vineyard has to be done by hand, with occasional assistance by a mule. The wine is made just as manually, with hand harvesting and hand destemming. The grapes ferment using native yeasts as gently and as long as they need to. After fermentation the wine ages in 100% new French oak barrels and is bottled without fining or filtration.

Customer comments:

"I loved this wine!!!!!" - Ms. J.H.

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