Alvaro Palacios is one of Spain's most respected winemakers, and the work he does at his family's estate is second to none. His La Montesa Rioja Crianza is a wine that really grabbed my senses when I tasted it last week, and I proceeded to buy every bottle available. When you taste it, you'll understand why.
Almost all Grenache, from an elevated, certified organic, hillside vineyard in Eastern Rioja, this is juicy and lush on the one hand, but it's quite complex and layered as well. Rated 93 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and even higher by yours truly, this is Rioja for a lover of Pinot Noir and Red Burgundy. Delicious! Just 120 bottles up for grab....
2018 Palacios Remondo Rioja Crianza 'La Montesa'
94 points Yours Truly, 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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Despite being born into one of Rioja's most famed winemaking families, Alvaro Palacios was never content to "stay home" and rest on his family's laurels. He ventured away from his birthplace in the 1980's, first stopping in Bordeaux and working with Jean-Pierre Moueix of Chateau Petrus fame. Shortly thereafter, Alvaro purchased a winery in Priorat, where he worked tirelessly and effectively to put that region's wines on the map. In the mid-90's, Alvaro was called back to Rioja to help his family's winery get back on track.
Today, he is considered one of Spain's brightest wine minds, and he makes standard-bearing wines in Rioja, Priorat, Bierzo, and beyond. When it comes to Rioja, Palacios is one of the region's most forward-thinking producers. Organic farming, maximizing terroir expression, cutting back on new oak; these are just a few of the quality measures Alvaro has put into place. The wines of Palacios Remondo have certainly evolved and improved during his tenure there, becoming brighter, livelier, and more expressive.
One of the best versions of La Montesa he's ever produced, the 2018 vintage is such a beautiful red wine. From a rocky vineyard located at 1,800 feet in elevation planted almost entirely to Grenache, this dry-farmed, old vine site produces very low yields and intensely flavored fruit. Fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts, the wine is aged in a combination of older French and American barriques. Bottled without filtration, the finished wine turned out brilliantly.
Pure and elegant, this comes booming out of the glass with notes of ripe cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit. With time and air, the wine evolves, showing more complex and savory notes of spice, smoky mineral, and vanilla. Nicely textured and velvety on the palate, at five years of age, this stuff is drinking like a dream. Kind of like a fuller-bodied Pinot Noir with a Spanish pizzazz, this will appeal to a broad swath of palates.
Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate loved it too. "The quality/price champion 2018 La Montesa is now 100% Garnacha from organically farmed vineyards from the 100-hectare family property that gives the wine its name." He went on to say it "brings back the character of the traditional wines from yesteryear in a very clean way" and that it "has great purity and typicity."
What a wine, what a vigneron, and what a great deal! Like I said, I bought my distributor out of this one, but that only added up to 120 bottles. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this will sell out fast, and there is no more to be had once it's gone.
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