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Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses 2017

Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses 2017

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"I've always had a special interest in this Garnacha and Cariñena blend from Álvaro Palacios, and the current vintage is now the 2017 Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes. It's produced with grapes from 80 different vineyards in eight villages and therefore is a regional wine. 2017 was a warm and ripe year that produced powerful wines. This 2017 is 55% Garnacha with 44% Cariñena and a 1% pinch of white grapes that fermented in concrete and oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in barrique and oak vat for 11 months. This is the earthiest of the bottlings, and it has some rustic touches from the Cariñena, which gives it its personality. 2017 was their earliest harvest ever (the first time they ever started harvesting in August!). They used a little more new oak, yet the wine is not oaky or excessively ripe. There is no room for sweetness here, and the wine is clean, reflecting very healthy grapes and very elegant tannins, quite transparent, not dry, but rather juicy. Great Terrasses, a triumph over the conditions of the vintage. 126,000 bottles produced. Drink: 2019-2026. 93 points

Álvaro Palacios has to be one of the largest producers in Priorat as well as one of the quality leaders of the appellation, a combination of quality and quantity that is unusual in most parts of the country. It's one of the reasons why the Priorat appellation is a leader in defining a hierarchy of its wines through the origin—regional, specific village or part of it (paraje or lieu-dit) and single vineyard. Annual output is 400,000 bottles.

2017 and 2018 are almost opposites as far as the weather is concerned: 2017 was warm and dry, and 2018 was milder and wetter. I tasted mostly 2017s, and only the entry-level Camins del Priorat was from 2018. 2017 was the earliest harvest in recent times, and the French grapes were picked in late August. However, the 2017s felt fresh and quite elegant and didn't show any heat; they felt elegant but Mediterranean at heart. I found the collection to be phenomenal, very much transcending the vintage."

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (244)