Alvaro Palacios L'Ermita Velles Vinyes 1998
Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain
The Wine Advocate - "The blockbuster, opaque purple-colored 1998 L'Ermita (the finest since the 1995 and 1994) exhibits a full-bodied personality with copious quantities of sweet oak, a boatload of glycerin, and superb blackberry, cassis, and cherry fruit that explodes on the mid-palate and in the finish. The elevated quantities of new oak should become better integrated as the wine ages over the next 15-20 years. This is an exceptionally impressive/expressive wine."
International Wine Cellar - "Full deep ruby. Great brooding nose of black and red fruit liqueur, spices and flowers. Like liquid velvet in the mouth, but with bracing acids giving it a three-dimensional texture. A wine of uncanny chewy depth. Firmly structured and youthfully unevolved, but already quite explosive on the back half. Finishes with major dusty-but-ripe tannins and extraordinary persistence. Late hints of cassis and shoe polish. A great vintage for this wine, in need of at least five or six years of additional bottle aging. 96(+?) points."
Wine Spectator - "Plush on the midpalate yet firm on the finish, this concentrated Spanish red delivers plenty of ripe fruit and toasty oak, balanced and rich. International style in its texture and polish, yet the flavors are distinctive and typical for the region."
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Alvaro Palacios Winery
The son of the owners of Rioja's Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios spent his early 20s working and studying winemaking outside of Spain. His experience abroad - particularly in Bordeaux - instilled in him a deep passion for great wines and led him to return to Spain. With the ambition to make wines that could be world-class. To achieve this dream, Palacios was drawn to the historic hillsides of slate soil and its traditional grape varieties of Garnacha and Carinena. Now widely considered to be among the more important new Spanish wineries in a generation, Alvaro Palacios embodies the spirit of "The New Spain." View all Alvaro Palacios Wines
About PrioratView a map of Priorat wineries (pree-ohr-aht) Spain, sparking envy among collectors. The region has become something of a cult wine producer, creating wines that cost up to 5 times that of a quality Rioja. The region has a special soil, called llicorella made of a brown slate mixed together with rocks. Mountains surround the area and the vines are tended by hand.
Notable FactsThe red wines here are based on Garnacha, and produce inky wine with intense fruit flavors of blackberry and plums, not to mention a required minimum of 13.5% alcohol. The secondary grape of the region is Carinena (Carignan in France). This grape has lost favor in most parts of the world due to its rustic nature, but here in Priorat it's a welcome structural addition to the Garnacha based wines.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.
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