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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)

Institute of Masters of Wine
T: +44 (0)207 383 9131

2016 Lallemand Bursary awarded

The Institute of Masters of Wine and Lallemand are delighted to announce that Diego Bonnel, from France, has won the 2016 Lallemand Bursary. The prize was given to a student who submitted a 1000 words essay on the following question: It has been said that the principal challenges facing winemakers in the years ahead will be: longevity, acidity management and alcohol levels. Please explain whether you agree or disagree with this notion. You should give reasons for your answer, using examples, references and details.

Lallemand, the bursary’s sponsor, is a Supporter of the Institute and a leading producer of wine yeast, bacteria and their nutrients, and a distributor of oenological enzymes. It is a privately owned Canadian corporation present in most wine producing countries. Its Oenology Division, based in Toulouse, France, has a major focus on research and development, both in-house and in collaboration with renowned research institutes.

As part of the prize, Diego is invited to attend the XVIth Entretiens Scientifiques Lallemand (ESL), in Osoyoos, British Colombia Canada. The topic for this year’s event is Biodiversity Meets Terroir, at which talks will be presented by top researchers on the ecology of wine microorganisms. It is the 26th edition of the ESL, a yearly conference focused on wine microbiology.

On hearing the news regarding the Bursary, Diego said:

“I am thrilled at the idea of sharing top knowledge with the world’s greatest scientists and to understand how Lallemand is contributing to improving and facilitating the life of winemakers worldwide regarding yeasts, bacteria and enzymes. My main concern is to meet Lallemand staff and understand their work, to be able to grab the philosophy and deep commitment of the company to improving the world of wine, and to see how they fit into todays’ winemakers priorities.”

Ann Dumont, Communications Manager for Lallemand’s Oenology Division, said:

“Diego’s essay was very well researched and written, and stood out with creative thinking linked with scientific facts. Attendance at our conference is a great opportunity for him to learn about the state-of-the-art in research related to wine microbiology. We hope that Diego will enjoy his prize and take the opportunity to discover the wines of British Colombia.”


T: +44 (0)207 383 9131