Overview

  • Ricardo Perez and Álvaro Palacios put Bierzo, and the Mencía variety, on the map. Their trailblazing winery, Descendientes de J. Palacios, is named after José Palacios, Alvaro’s father and Ricardo’s grandfather.
  • The estate vineyards are located around the town of Corullón, on Bierzo’s western edge. The zone is home to the region’s highest vineyards, steepest slopes, and poorest, slate/schist soils.
  • Ricardo has influenced a generation of Spanish farmers and winemakers through his pioneering work with biodynamic and sustainable farming. Vineyard work is done primarily by hand or mule, and all estate fruit is farmed biodynamically.

During the late 1980’s, Alvaro Palacios travelled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain’s greatest wine.

He ultimately decided, in 1990, on Priorat, where he would achieve worldwide fame with “L'Ermita” and “Finca Dofi.” But there had been a close contender: Bierzo. It had all the ingredients that Alvaro wanted-incredibly steep hillside vineyards, distinctive terroirs and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of Mencía—a unique red grape believed brought by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages.

In Pursuit of the Dream

The idea of making great wine from old-vine Mencía never left Alvaro, and his experience in Priorat-particularly with L'Ermita-convinced him of Bierzo's enormous potential. Meanwhile, his nephew Ricardo Perez had finished enological studies in Bordeaux and was travelling across France-absorbing everything he could about great wines. He worked the harvest at Château Margaux, and did internships at other Bordelais firms like Moueix (Pétrus, Trotanoy, etc.). He also visited Alvaro frequently and came to share a belief in Bierzo's potential. In 1998, the two decided on a joint venture and set out in search of the region's finest old vineyards.

Assembling the Pieces 

Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo's western border named Corullón. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor—composed mostly of schist—but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, or Piedmont’s Langhe hills.

Remarkable Commitment

From the beginning, Ricardo embraced biodynamic viticulture as a means to craft the transparent wines of his dreams. The effort required in this damp corner of Spain is extraordinary, yet Ricardo believes it yields wines with more balance and transparency. And, it’s allowed him to build an entire ecosystem around his vineyards. Work animals provide fertilizer and help him make the biodynamic courses. He’s worked with locals to market healthier vegetables, and produces fruit juices from surroundings orchards.

Five remarkable wines are the result of this life work. The first, Pétalos del Bierzo, is assembled from old hillside and hilltop vines across from Bierzo’s western edge. The wine is vinified for immediate appeal, but it retains the estate’s signature finesse and restraint.

Corullón is an assemblage from old-vine parcels in and around this town. Its combination of generosity and precision makes a case not only for Corullón’s special status, but also the superiority of Alvaro’s and Ricardo’s winemaking.

The estate also produces up to three extraordinary single-vineyard wines: Moncerbal, Las Lamas and La Faraona. Each is a distinctive expression of a remarkable and compelling terroir.

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Wine barrels in a cellar

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