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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Descendientes de J. Palacios Villa de Corullón

Spain (Bierzo)

mencía

[no website]

The golden kiss of victory! Let’s raise a glass of Spanish wine to the winners of the FIFA World Cup 2010.

I had intended to save this bottle for bigger celebration, but hey, it doesn’t get any bigger than this! An exceptional wine from a little known region of Spain, in honour of a team whose country has never before won the ultimate football crown.

Descendientes de J. Palacios Villa de Corullón 2004

Purple ink to the eye, and to the nose — spice that sparkles with class. From the beginning you get the feeling the glass holds something special. Deep and rich cassis, but fruit with an aged presence. It has settled in the mouth as one would into the contours of prime leather. This is an earth-rich experience, marked by minerality and fruit complexity that seeks balance rather than power, subtle gravity rather than wild expressiveness. Nicely concentrated in its relative youth, yet evoking an older, slower, tobacco-tinged era.   $$$

This wine is the work of a prestigious Spanish wine-making family. In 1998 RICARDO PÉREZ PALACIOS, not long finished his enological studies, and his uncle ALVARO PALACIOS (one of the men behind the sudden surge of Priorat to the upper levels of the country’s wine regions) established a joint venture in Bierzo. The deeply rural, little known DO in north-western Spain was based on a grape – mencía – that was on the radar of very few wine drinkers. Yet the pair held a strong belief in the potential of the old hillside vineyards to be found here, especially those around the town of Corullón. In a short time they had acquired in excess of 100 small parcels of land. Biodynamics was embraced as it had been in Priorat. 2001 saw the first bottling of their estate named in honour of their recently deceased father and grandfather, the man who inspired their wine-making.

I like to think of it as a wine resulting from the dogged pursuit of a dream, undertaken with the verve of Don Quixote, and with his sense of importance of tradition. In Bierzo the vineyards are still ploughed by horses and mencía remains king. Respecting the wine-making of the past, while building on the strengths of the varietal seemed the way to go. It many senses it flies in the face of over-extracted, over-oaked, high-alcohol preferences of the market. Restraint in technique and age-old respect for the schist terroir are priorities. The Palacios’ Bierzo wines will get even better over time.

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