Spain is now producing great wine beyond the traditional regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, and Álvaro Palacios deserves a large share of credit for propelling two of the most successful areas: Priorat and Bierzo.
Born into a family that has grown grapes in Spain's Rioja Baja region for 300 years, Palacios could have stayed at their Palacios Remondo. But after studying in Bordeaux, he yearned for new horizons. In 1989, he moved to a forgotten part of Catalonia called Priorat. He joined a small band of pioneers and helped create wines from old vineyards of Garnacha and Cariñena. Today his L'Ermita bottling commands the highest price of any wine in Spain, released at $1,000 per bottle.
In 1998 Palacios went exploring on the other side of Spain. With his nephew Ricardo Pérez, Palacios opened Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo, making exciting wines from the then-uncelebrated Mencía grape. And in 2000, he returned home, taking over Palacios Remondo and refocusing it on high quality wine from old Garnacha vines, the traditional variety that had fallen out of favor. Energetic, focused and charismatic, Palacios has been a key player in realizing Spain's true wine potential.
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