Rafael Palacios wine producer

Rafael Palacios
The youngest of nine siblings, Rafael (Rafa) Palacios was born into a noted winemaking family that own the Palacios Remondo estate in Rioja.  His brother Alvaro is one of the five winemakers who revived the Priorat region in Catalonia, and Alvaro’s top red from there, L’Ermita, is probably the most iconic and expensive in Spain.
 
Rafa wanted to make wine, but had a rather un-Spanish fondness for whites.  After studying in Bordeaux and working for Southcorp (Penfolds et al) in Australia, Rafa returned to Rioja and persuaded his father to let him try his hand at a white wine.  The result, in 1997, was Placet.  Very different to the traditional oaky, oxidative style of the region, this fresh and herby white became one of the icons of new-wave white Rioja.
 
While creating Placet he first tasted Godello, which at the time was largely unknown even in Spain, at a 1996 wine show in Madrid and was promptly smitten by the variety.  He moved to Valdeorras and began to buy up Godello vineyard plots in the high and rugged Bibei valley, in the O Bolo municipality.  Galician vineyards are highly subdivided, with a tradition of inheritance determined by drawing lots (sorte in Gallego, the Galician language) out of a hat.  Rafa’s first Godello was released in 2004 and called As Sortes in honour of this custom.  It was an immediate success, with some influential wine critics going so far as to declare it Spain’s best dry white.
 
Rafa continued to acquire vineyards and now has 26 plots totalling 24.5 hectares, either owned outright or on long-term lease.  They range between 18 and 94 years old, and lie at elevations between 600 and 720 metres on the right bank of the Bibei as it winds northwards to join the Sil.  Most Valdeorras vineyards are on slate soils ‐ Valdeorras is the slate-mining capital of Europe ‐ but these are on granite.  They drain so well that Rafa often uses a straw mulch to lock in moisture.  He doesn’t use pesticides or artifical fertilisers but isn’t certified organic.
 
He now makes three main cuvées: As Sortes is the top one, with Louro (formerly Louro de Bolo) in the middle and the unoaked O Bolo as the entry-level wine.  In the best vintages he makes a single-vineyard Sorte O Soro.

Decanting Club wines made by: Rafael Palacios

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