2009 Alvaro Palacios L'Ermita Priorat

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(96 Points) The 2009 L’Ermita has a feminine, sensual bouquet laced with pure raspberry, creme de cassis, orange blossom and lavender aromas with a touch of Seville orange marmalade. The palate is full-bodied, with a gentle but insistent grip. It is bright and lively with precise tannins, the keen thread of acidity belying the potency on the precocious finish, which fans across the mouth like a roll of thunder. There are hints of white pepper and liquorice lingering on the aftertaste of this outstanding Priorat red. Drink 2017-2030. Visiting Alvaro Palacios was a must during my trip to Priorat, the dynamo and tour de force that has propelled Priorat to the forefront of the Spanish wine scene. The modern architecture of his hilltop winery lies in stark contrast to the nearby village Gratallops, where houses huddle as if sheltering from a raincloud that will never come. Indeed, as we parked the car, the village’s P.A. system was announcing that there would be no running water for the next two hours, indicating how precious a commodity water is. People suffer as well as vines. Since his debut in 1989, Alvaro’s wines have built a formidable reputation with prices to match. Fortunately, he pays as much attention to quality at the lower end of his range: a bottle bearing his name must meet his exacting standards. I listened as Alavaro expounded the greatness of Garnacha, convinced that the identity of Priorat lies in this grape variety and Carinena, rather than Cabernet Sauvignon. A man of his word, he is therefore reducing the percentage of Cabernet in his flagship L’Ermita and it would not surprise me if it is phased out entirely in the future. Personally, I think an already great wine is greater for it. He also rhapsodized about his nascent 2010s, which he feels are not as “heavy†as his 2009s and constitute “very enchanting wines,†something I completely agree with. Most of these wines were tasted in Priorat, augmented by one or two tastings held in London. Wine Advocate #200 Apr 2012 Reviewer: Neal Martin


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