We are delighted to be able to offer, for the first time on release, the two iconic and extremely rare wines from Alvaro Palacios, L’Ermita and Finca Dofi. The 2015 vintage is already being heralded as exceptional in Europe and in 2015 Palacios’ wines are truly special. The summer was dry and hot in Priorat, with the highest average temperatures on record, helping the old vines to flourish and produce beautiful wines. Since 2007 Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita has gone from an average bottle price of £150 to £500 today and in 2013 L’Ermita was awarded a perfect 100 point score, today this trades at £1,400 a bottle. In 2015 Palacios became the Decanter Man of the Year and in 2016 he was voted Winemaker’s Winemaker of the Year, by the Institute of Masters of Wine. There is little question today that L’Ermita has risen to the pantheon of the world’s greatest wines, yet what makes it even more special is its rarity, in 2015 only 200 cases were made!
Palacios was born into a family with over 350 years of winemaking history, immersed in vines from boy to man. His family own a prestigious winery in Rioja, but he left the fold to study winemaking in Bordeaux, where he spent two years working under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Moueix and thereby working at Chateaux Petrus and Mouton Rothschild. His return to Spain led directly to the renaissance in Priorat. At the time Rene Barbier was working at a winery in Rioja, owned by Alvaro Palacios. He convinced several winemakers including Palacios to ply their trade and in 1989 Barbier formed a troupe of five winemakers who launched the five Clos. They shared premises, exchanged grapes and assisted each other in the village of Gallaptrops. These initial five winemakers became inspired and set up their own Bodegas, all founded in the mid-1980s; Clos Dofi, renamed by Palacios as Finca Dofi; Clos Erasmus; Clos Martinet; Clos de L’Obac and Barbier’s own Clos Mogador.
In 1993 Palacios found a site with incredibly old and low producing vines and created L’Ermita, pioneering a new generation inspired to use existing vineyards in the new Priorat style. This single vineyard is the cream of the crop, made from extremely low yields and ancient vines planted in the 1940s. The blend is 80% Garnacha, 15% Cabnernet Sauvignon and 5% Carinena and is aged in new French barriques for up to 20 months. Today the single vineyard has the reputation as one of the greatest in the world and the crown jewel of Priorat.
If L’Ermita is the pinnacle of Spain’s wine making tradition, Finca Dofi has to be considered one of the best value wines. Clos Dofi was Palacios’ first vineyard and one of the five great Clos of Priorat, renamed Finca Dofi in 1994. Palacios says of the vineyard ‘Dofí is the history of my life in Priorat…Garnacha is a musical, joyful variety with its orange fruit.’ Finca Dofi undergoes the same treatment as L’Ermita the vines are manicured in the same way, with unprecedented care. The vineyard also benefits from incredible altitude, ancient vines and wonderful north facing aspect. This year the blend is 95% Garnacha, 4% Samso, with a dash of white grapes to top the blend up. It is aged for 20 months in 100% new oak and like L’Ermita the wine is biodynamic and bottled unfiltered. However, unlike L’Ermita which costs £500 per bottle, Finca Dofi can be bought for £31 per bottle. It is truly a remarkable wine and an incredible wine for those in the know. The reason for this attractive price point is that 1,800 cases are produced, while small compared to most great wines, this allows Palacios to keep the wine at a fantastic price point.
There is little question that the 2015 vintage will be remarkable, with parallels being drawn to 2013. The Decanter Master of Wine, Sarah Jame Evans is the only critic to score the wine so far, awarding L’Ermita 96 (19.2/20) points and Finca Dofi 95 (19/20) points. We also have large formats available, which are rarer still, although it is remarkable to think L’Ermita can only offer 200 cases of this potential legendary vintage to the market.
L’Ermita 2015 – Decanter, Sarah Jame Evans – 96 Points
Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita 2015 has a dense dark purple core with pinkish edge in colour. Generous brambly aromas. The palate arrives silky and smooth with bright acidity and dancing freshness. Strikingly cool and elegant, with a very fine texture. Superb finish, full of promise for a terrific future ahead of it.
Finca Dofi 2015 – Decanter, Sarah Jame Evans MW – 95 Pts
Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofí 2015 is grown on brown slate. Deep purple with pink rim. Impressively powerful, with a burst of black fruits, fresh, well-balanced, with a refined texture. A rasp of tannin gives structure, and a burst of juice explodes on the finish. An edge of liquorice and wild herbs to the finish. Very long, very fresh.
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