Álvaro Palacios 2018 En Primeur Vintage

Álvaro Palacios 2018 En Primeur Vintage

by Will

See below for the Álvaro Palacios 2018 vintage review from our Spanish buyer, Catriona Felstead. 

2018 Vintage Overview

The 2018 vintage was nothing short of spectacular in each of the regions where Álvaro makes his top wines. After many years of drought, the much-needed winter rains finally fell and the vines were reinvigorated, re-setting their inner balance in tandem with the seasonal norms. When the rains fell again at harvest, they were welcomed, not feared, and have brought incredible freshness and energy to these truly unique wines.

Corullón, Bierzo

It has been five years since Bierzo enjoyed a ‘normal’ climatic pattern but the team at Descendientes de J. Palacios were overjoyed to see this return in 2018. It felt as if the vineyard was finally back in harmony with nature, with all the surrounding flora and fauna joyfully luxuriating in familiar weather. Heavy rainfall over the winter fell off and on until June, requiring extensive work in the organic vineyards here too, but July and August remained completely dry. Storms heralded the onset of the harvest, which began in the second week of September. Álvaro describes the 2018 Bierzo wines as “…dangling from the thread of acidity, fine but very strong at the same time, made of water and nerve, of tenacity and charm.” His excitement and pride at La Faraona is particularly tangible; how often do you hear the winemaker referring to, “a drink of goddesses and gods that attains strength and a special, enlightened magic?” This is an exceptional Bierzo vintage.

Alfaro, Rioja Oriental

Severe drought affected the Rioja Oriental in 2017. Not so in 2018, which started with snowfall in January and continued to be the wettest spring so far in the 21st century with 35% more rain than normal. The rainfall brought its challenges too, calling for intensive work in these organic vineyards to keep the risk of mildew at bay. The heat of the summer was finally broken by a cooler spell in mid-September, and more refreshing rainfall around harvest. The result was a harvest of good volume and incredibly graceful wines of stunning quality which, as Álvaro says, is “something that only happens every 20 years with Garnacha.”

Gratallops, Priorat

Rainfall is not that common in Priorat, even over the winter months, but in the 2018 vintage, extensive rainfall in not only February and March but also April and May led to what Álvaro describes as, “the joyful bubbling of a thousand streams descending among luminous holm oaks and clean slate soils.” The heat then arrived and settled in earnest followed in September by a slightly cooler spell and then energising rainfall at harvest, leading to “berries of such quality as we had not obtained in years.” The resultant wines are deep, complex and astonishingly fresh, with “enigmatic energy.”

Catriona Felstead MW, Spain Buyer, March 2019