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What our expert thought of Rafael Palacios, Louro




the tasting

The Tasting


In the glass this is a fairly pale lemon colour, with a distinct green tinge despite its barrel and bottle age.  That’s apparently characteristic of the very green Godello grape.  Swirling reveals noticeable legs on the side of the glass, hinting at the high 14% alcohol.
 
The nose… oh… the nose is heavenly!  It’s not huge but it’s so fine, and thrillingly complex.  At first it’s hard to work out just what it smells of but then, after a few sniffs, I can find almost anything in there.  That’s what complexity means, really, but I fear I’m about to sound a bit Jilly Goolden.
 
There’s honeysuckle and there’s fresh herbs: hops and mint.  There’s ripe red apples, shading into quince.  There’s lemon peel.  A note of fennel creeps in too, along with fascinating minerally scents of gunflint and bookpaper.
 
It’s not just honeysuckle either… this has some of the penetrating honey scent of a botrytised sweet wine, although it smells dry.  Oak is just barely detectable as hazelnuts and a hint of smoke.  Beautiful.
 
In the mouth it’s so fresh and yet so ripe, with a stony mouthcoating intensity that builds through the palate.  There are flavours of green apple, quince, pear and ripe orangey citrus, with a spicy lemongrass edge.  Full-bodied and concentrated, it has a creamy mouthfeel from the lees contact, but is not at all heavy thanks to beautifully balancing citrus acidity that keeps it poised and precise.
 
Some yellow plums appear on the long, elegant finish, spiced with lemongrass and ginger.  Lifted by firm acidity that can be felt in the corners of the mouth, the finish finally fades into a lingering herbal nuttiness.


Assessment


What a wonderful wine!  I love its combination of freshness and ripeness, and the layers of complexity that unfold as I taste it.  It is quite Burgundian, with the subtly-oaked citrussy aromas reminding me of a Premier Cru Chassagne.  But those notes of green apple and honey, and the spice-laden acidity of the finish, are rather closer to a great dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire like a top Vouvray or Savennières.
 
This was my favourite white wine discovery of 2017 and the star of the exciting ‘Viñateros!’ tasting of new-wave Spanish wines we went to last February.  (Most of the Spanish reds we’ve featured over the past year were found there.)  Winemaker Rafael Palacios was present in person and poured me my glass of Louro.  At the time I didn’t realise what a big deal he was, and I’m now kicking myself for not sampling the two vintages of As Sortes he was showing, or the single-vineyard Sorte O Soro.  But it was a big tasting and I was a bit late; if I hadn’t confined myself strictly to wines in the Decanting Club price range I’d never have got round it all.
 
My discipline at the time does now does allow me to claim, hand on heart, that this is the best Spanish white I’ve ever tasted.  The As Sortes probably wasn’t ready to drink anyway (I keep telling myself).  This wine was clearly going to get better (and it has) which is partly why we delayed featuring it for so long.  The downside is that we now have the last few bottles of 2015 available; once they run out we’ll have to buy 2016.   However, although I haven’t tasted it yet, the 2016 Louro is getting even better reviews than the 2015.  Just make sure you decant it well in advance.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium- lemon, green tinge, strong legs
Nose

Intensity medium+

Aromas floral (honeysuckle), herbs (hops, mint), orchard fruit (red apple, quince), stony citrus (lemon peel), mineral (gunflint, bookpaper), honey, spice (fennel), oak (hazelnut, smoke)

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness very dry

Acidity medium+, backloaded

Body full, backloaded

Intensity medium+, backloaded, mouthcoating

Flavours green fruit (apple, quince, pear), ripe citrus (orange), mineral/lees/MLF (stony, creamy), spice (lemongrass)
Finish

Length long, lifted by acidity

Flavours as palate, stone fruit (yellow plum), spice (lemongrass, ginger), ends on herbs & nuts
Other notes
Nose very fine & complex (after initial reduction). Freshness & ripeness & concentration. Needs air & warmth. Somewhere between great Burgundy & great dry Vouvray. Superb, will keep.


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