The 2017 Descendientes de Jose Palacios Petalos is a great example of an elegant and finessed Spanish red wine. Composed entirely of Spain’s native Mencia grape and coming from the rugged vineyards of Bierzo, in Northwestern Spain, this is Spain’s answer to Red Burgundy.
Rated 93 points by both the Wine Advocate and James Suckling, the 2017 Petalos is in very fine form. Boasting gorgeous notes of red fruits and spices all offered up on a medium-bodied, silky palate, this will appeal to lovers of Pinot Noir and Loire Valley Cab Franc.
2017 Descendientes de Jose Palacios Petalos
93 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and James Suckling
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Alvaro Palacios is undoubtedly one of Spain’s top vignerons. When I say vigneron, I’m not just referring to him as a winemaker. He’s so much more than that. He’s also very skilled at finding unique and well-positioned vineyards and farming them to their fullest potential. And that is exactly what he has done most of his life. Born into a legendary wine family in Rioja, Alvaro could have taken the easy path and taken over there. But after working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Chateau Pétrus in Bordeaux, he came back to his native country ready to redefine Spanish wine.
Alvaro began his reign as the leader of the “The New Spain” in Priorat, where he helped establish that region as one of Spain’s most important red wine zones. After that, he set his sights on Bierzo, another region that had all the ingredients that Alvaro wanted. The combination of steep vineyards, distinctive terroirs, and old vines led Alvaro and his nephew Ricardo Perez to establish their winery in 1998. From day one, they have farmed their vineyards biodynamically/organically and that is still going on today. And just as Alvaro helped elevate Priorat to new levels, he did the same in Bierzo.
So what is Mencia, what’s it like, and why should you try it? First and foremost, it’s a grape native to the northwestern part of Spain and it’s believe to have been brought there by French pilgrims in the Middle Ages. Often compared to Pinot Noir with its floral and red fruit flavors, it also possesses a peppery and minerally nuance that reminds me a bit of Chinon (Cab Franc from the Loire Valley). And the color tends to be a tad darker than your average Pinot Noir, hinting at violet. In a nutshell, although Mencia reminds me of other grapes, it is its own thing altogether.
And the current Petalos release is a great way to start your journey with Mencia. Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate sums it up quite nicely, describing it as “very immediate, approachable, round and juicy” and “vibrant, with acid strawberry flavors.” And James Suckling got more into the flavor profile: “Crushed-blackberry, asphalt and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body. Lots of cracked black pepper and spice. Chewy finish.” I agree with both, although I get a nice mix of dark AND red fruit, with lots of spice on the finish. And I’d say the palate is pretty silky, with just enough tannin to make this extremely versatile at the dinner table.
I could go on but I think you get the point. This is a world-class producer and a wonderful wine at a great price. Stop by and pick some up or use the contact form below to place your order.
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