In a nutshell: Exemplary deep and concentrated Priorat from Catalonia.
The lowdown: Alvaro Palacios' small estate is one of the leading lights of Priorat and his wines are always sought after. While this is, in fact, one of his more 'entry level' examples it well justifies its price tag. Made from equal proportions of old vine Garnacha and Carignan grown on some of the steepest sites around the village of Gratallops the wine has warming aromas of liquorice and tobacco leaf while on the palate the concentrated sweet red fruits are nicely complemented by the soft spices and hints of coffee and chocolate. For all its depth it retains a nicely light feel and good mineral backbone.
When to drink: Pair it with rich meat or game dishes.
Alvaro Palacios comes from background steeped in the wines of Rioja and it would have been natural for him to continue into the family's bodega, Palacios Remondo. However he wanted to branch out by himself and set up in Priorat in 1989 where his winery is now based in the the village of Gratallops.
He was set on producing world class wines and to this end studied in Bordeaux and spent two years working at Château Petrus in Pomerol. On setting up in Priorat he bought the Finca Dofi vineyard in 1990 followed by L'Ermita in 1993 from where he created the wine that really put him on the map.
He's, without doubt, one of the main influencers among the quality focussed producers in Spain and while his wines fetch hefty prices they're certainly worth seeking out.