Tasting 2001-2011 vintages of Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo
It is easy to taste more wine and research more subjects than I can write about. These notes from a fall tasting of wine from Descendientes de J. Palacios prove that point. The Palacios wines all came from a single cellar purchased last year by MacArthur Beverages. The owner bought them direct from the Rare Wine Co. and had cellared them properly since purchase. Thus there was no more reason needed to purchase these wines other than curiosity. As I have an incredibly tiny dining room Roland generously offered to host the tasting.
That a white wine from Bierzo could be purely Dona Blanca was revealing for most. The nose of the 2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo was quite engaging and I enjoyed the mouthfeel. It’s a shame it was so pricey. The 2011 Adega Algueira, Ribera Sacra acted as a transition wine being made from Mencia in Ribera Sacra. This young, grapey wine left me wanting to jump into the Palacios wines. This pair of wines were purchased at Despaña Vinos y Mas.
2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo –
Imported by Peninsula Wines. This wine is 100% Dona Blanca. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose was aromatic with forest and fresh pine notes. In the mouth fresh fruit flavors eventually developed and were kept lively by balanced acidity. The wine was rounded with glycerin becoming softer towards the finish.
2011 Adega Algueira, Ribeira Sacra –
Imported by Polaner Selections. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 13%. This wine seemed reduced at first eventually showing a grapey, black fruited style of Mencia. The wine was young with a citrus hint and grapey tannins.
The Descendientes de J. Palacios Tasting
The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios are the result of the collaboration between Ricardo Perez and Alvaro Palacios that began in 1999. They put together some 30 hectares of vines located in the hills near Corullón in the region of Bierzo in the northwest of Spain. For our tasting we spanned much of the estate’s history with vintages that went from 2011 back to 2001. The wines themselves encompassed four different bottlings. Petalos marks the entry level and is made from old-vine Mencia sourced from many sites. The Villa de Corullón uses fruit from vines up to 90 years of age located in vineyards that flank Corullón. The Moncerbal and Las Lamas wines are made from vineyards located in the same valley south of Corullón . The Moncerbal vineyards are located on a steep hillside between 650 – 740 meters in elevation. The vineyards generally face south-west. The soils here are a mixture of slates, quartzes, and marbles. Las Lamas represents the fourth wine we would taste. The fruit for these wines are sourced from small vineyards located just west of Moncerbal at similar altitude. Here the vineyards face south with soils of broken slate.
The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios quickly escalate both in price and scores. With this in mind it might be surprising that the pair of vintages from the entry-level Petalos caught everyone off guard. The 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo is a strapping, young wine that I strongly recommend you find some for your cellar. I write this because the 2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo has entered that second stage of life showing both fruit and bottle aged flavors. It has developed incredibly well. I will admit that, for no particular reason other than a lack of information, I half expected it to be past its peak.
Of the other selections my favorites included the 2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo and the 2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo. This pair showed good balance of fruit, acidity, and strong structure that should reward after a few more years in the cellar. Sadly, the trio of wines from the 2001 vintages showed as a whole that they were past their prime drinking.
2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14.5%. This showed round, grippy young fruit, some smoothness before savory, black minerals, and a slightly warm finish. With air this robust wine became salty with drying, fine tannins. A strapping wine.
2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14%. The attractive nose immediately showed more maturity. The low-lying flavors were almost meaty with fine to medium textured tannins. There was significant life in this wine which was still fruity showing red cherry, tart cranberry, and strawberry flavors. With air the wine became more fragrant with floral aromas that made way to old wood and tart red fruit in the mouth. Lovely.
2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 15%. This wine was young and robust with a tight core of deep, sexy, racy fruit. The fruit was sweet (alcohol?) but not from residual sugar. This wine definitely stepped things up with not quite brawny floral flavors that retained lots of focus.
2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14.5%. There was an attractive, dark nose that was not quite stinky. The flavors had a cool start followed by very fine blue fruit, a cinnamon finish, and dense, expansive aftertaste. There was a robust, powerful structure that left drying tannins on the gums. With air this wine showed good balance with dense, sweet blue fruit, lovely acidity, and a black minerally finish.
2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a hint of butter on the nose. In the mouth were lighter red fruit flavors that were gently dense and stylistically different. There were very fine, smooth tannins that were more obviously from wood. It had some texture.
2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14.5%. The subtle berry nose opened up to step out of the glass. There were exotic flavors in the mouth that were savory with strawberry notes and spicy tannins in the structure. There was concentrated fruit, lovely acidity that was more abundant than the 2007, and a really good finish. Nice wine.
2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14%. There was a nose of tobacco followed by firm fruit in the mouth. There was acidity and vintage perfume notes but the soft focus and hollow middle were detracting.
2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 13%. The vintage perfume aromas were delicate. The wine was very easy to drink with a personality of lighter fruit, strawberry flavors, and acidity. It remained very approachable.
2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is 100% Mencia. Alcohol 14%. Though this was fruity the flavors dropped off by the finish.
With the last three wines from the 2001 vintage leaving us wanting, Roland returned from his basement with a bottle of 2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva. Into the big decanter/glass it went. Roland worked the decanter, coaxing the wine to open up before pouring it out. It was gorgeous!
2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva
Imported by De Maison Selections. Alcohol 13.5%. A harmonious wine with sweet fruit complemented by wood box. The wine tasted younger as it breathed. There is clearly strong potential with this wine.
Our Sauternes flight proved we were doomed by vintages served in threes. You know you are in bad luck when Panos Kakaviatos remotely diagnosed a problem with the 1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes based on a Facebook picture. These wines came from two different cellars.
1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley. With flavors of apple orchard fruit this was more advanced than it should have been as also evidenced by the color. The fruit, glycerin, and acidity was all up front.
1988 Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley. Alcohol 13.5%. This managed to remain floral.
1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley. Alcohol 14%. This had grapier fruit and while the acidity was present, the flavors were very short leading to a textured, residual sugar infused finish.