Grape: 80% Garnarcha, 20% Samso (Carignan)
Region: Priorat, Spain
Ageing Potential: 2025-2030
Why you’ll love it?
If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of “The New Spain,” it is Alvaro Palacios. His L’Ermita is widely considered—along with Peter Sisseck’s Dominio de Pingus— to be the most important Spanish wine in a generation. Palacios was one of the ‘pioneers’, who vivified and re-interpreted Priorat after the Franco era de-planting. This small group of change-agents planted lots of French varietals in the fertile, alluvial valley soils and some in the mountains too – typically, modern Priorats contain about a third of (mixed) Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Now, after 20 years, Alvaro sees it was clearly a mistake, and as his commitment is to the nobility of the local Garnacha he is reverse-engineering the French varietals out of his Priorats as quickly as he can.
Today, with the introduction of his 'Vi de Gratallops' Alvaro’s regional ‘hierarchy’ and expression of Priorat complete (for now). Without doubt he is the finest producer in one of the most unique terroirs of world wine, working with indigenous old strains of Garnacha.
Alvaro successfully lobbied for legalisation allowing the naming of wines according to their Village location. Prior to this, a perverse illegality applied, whereby growers were not allowed to use Village names on their wines (odd when one considers the use of names such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Wehlen, La Morra and many more as quality and character signifiers elsewhere). There are now 12 legal Priorat Vi de la Vila sub-regional village appellations.
The first release of such was the 2007 ‘Vi de Gratallops’. The fruit source is Alvaro’s various holdings in-and-around Gratallops, 8.5 hectares in eight parcels other than Finca Dofi and L’Ermita. The wine’s composition for the first vintages (2007 on) was roughly 1/3 each of Garnacha, Samsó and Cabernet. From 2011, it’s just Garnacha with a little old-vine Samsó. De-stemmed, spontaneous fermentation in open wooden vat, macerated 40 days, aged 16 months in small French oak, 1-2 years old. Fined, unfiltered.
Bright ruby red in colour. Intense nose with lovely notes of red fruits, pomegranate, red cherries and violets. Palate is mid weight with fresh acidity and firm yet fine tannins. Intense fruit purity with a unique smokey, liquorice flavour special to this site. Ultra long and persistent finish.