Renowned Spanish producer wins top award from Masters of Wine
Today at ProWein the Institute of Masters of Wine and international publication The Drinks Business announced Àlvaro Palacios as the recipient of the 2016 Winemakers’ Winemaker Award.
The honour, which has been awarded since 2011, recognises outstanding achievement in the field of winemaking. The winner is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers that comprise all Masters of Wine who are winemakers, plus the award’s past winners: Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), Anne-Claude Leflaive (d) of Domaine Leflaive (2014) and Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof in 2015.
One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja’s Palacios Remondo, Àlvaro studied enology in Bordeaux, while working at Chateau Pétrus under Jean-Pierre Moueix.
Àlvaro could have returned to the security of his family’s domaine. But in the 1980s he was drawn to the largely abandoned, ancient vineyards of Priorat. Located 60 miles from Barcelona, Priorat had been one of Spain’s important pre-Phylloxera wine regions.
He acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990. Then, in 1993, he located what is now regarded as the crown jewel property in Priorat, a Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist that had been planted between 1900 and 1940. Àlvaro named it L’Ermita for a small chapel, or hermitage, which can be found on a hill in the property.
Not content with the praise received for L’Ermita, Àlvaro decided to explore another Spanish wine region, this time on the the North East of the country, and in 1998 he and his nephew created a small domaine in Bierzo. Nowadays Descendientes de J. Palacios – named after Àlvaro’s father – produces as many as seven different wines, depending on the year.
Àlvaro Palacios said:
‘Owing to the rigour and values the Institute of Master of Wine represents, it is the highest honour for me to receive this acknowledgement as a wine producer. I feel deeply grateful, and hence I want to express enthusiastically my devotion for the work of such an inspiring institution, which I hope to be up the level’
On presenting the award, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine said:
‘Àlvaro Palacios has already deservedly won many awards for his own wines, as well as for his exceptional contribution to the modern history of wine in Spain. This Award has the unique distinction of being voted for by winemakers. All of them as Masters of Wine are committed to excellence, and with this Award they recognise in Àlvaro Palacios’ work as a winemaker his own continued commitment to excellence.’
Ends (14 Mar 2016)