Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at Manzanilla, New York, New York

The influence that Alvaro Palacios has had on Spanish winemaking over the past two decades can hardly be measured. Not only has he been a reference point for young winemakers throughout Spain; he pioneered the two highly important regions of Priorat and Bierzo.

And he created two of the latter-day icons of Spanish wine: L’Ermita and La Faraona.

On Wednesday, May 22, Alvaro joined us at NYC’s wonderful Manzanilla for verticals of both LErmita and La Faraona.

LErmita is of course the most emblematic wine of Priorat, made by Alvaro since 1993 from old Garnacha vines planted on a steep hillside of pure schist. At the top of the hillside is the hermitage that gives the site its name. The market price for recent vintages of LErmita has grown to about $1000 a bottle.

La Faraona is the great wine of Bierzo, grown from a high-altitude Mencía vineyard that is at the upper limit of viticulture in Bierzo. The vines themselves are even older than those of LErmita, dating back more than 100 years. Since its first vintage in 2001, fewer than 100 cases have been made each year, and even recent vintages of La Faraona sell for $700 to $900 per bottle in Spain.

The following rarities were served at this momentous tasting:

La Faraona: 2001, 2006, 2010, 2012
LErmita: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 

The 2012s from both vineyards were barrel samples and this was the first time they were tasted in America.

As for the incredibly rare 2001 La Faraona, at the time of the dinner, we didnt know of a bottle available for sale anywhere in the world.

These great wines were accompanied by an inspired menu by one of the biggest stars of Spains culinary scene, Dani García, who opened Manzanilla in February. The restaurant features the authentic Spanish flavors of García’s Michelin two-star restaurant Calima, in Marbella, Spain, in a more casual environment.

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Wine barrels in a cellar

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