Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2020
“As with the other wines, I also tasted the 2020 As Sortes next to the 2019. The vineyards and process were the same, native fermentation in 500-liter French oak barrels, where the wine matured with fine lees for eight months. But 2020 is riper than 2019 (14.4% vs 14%), and it also has a lower pH and higher acidity. Like the Louro, this feels closed, primary and a little reductive at first. It took time in the glass to open up. The vineyards here are able to cushion the effect of the vintage, and the viticulture they have been doing (organic and biodynamic) makes for concentrated wines that are also more closed early on and then need more time in bottle. The palate references a very mineral wine with a powerful mineral strike. It improved tremendously in the glass over the course of a couple of hours. 18,500 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2021. Drink: 2023-2030. 95+ points
I tasted the 2019s and 2020s from Rafa Palacios in Valdeorras. For him, these are two very good years. 2019 had a mild and dry winter and a rainy and cold spring that delayed budding, followed by a mild summer with fewer hours of sunshine, which meant a delay in the ripening process. Harvest was more than one month later than usual, and the grapes achieved very slow ripening and full development of aromas and flavors while keeping the acidity. The harvest started in October and finished in November. It’s a beautiful, homogeneous vintage with very good wines.
2020 saw a moderately cool and rainy winter and a dry and cold spring that resulted in 20% less bunches than in 2019. The summer was also quite dry but, fortunately, not too hot. Given the low yields, maturation was accelerated, and the harvest began at the beginning of September for Louro and from September 25th for As Sortes. Given the scarce water, the plants had to work harder deep down into the soil, which marked the wines; the silica and quartz from the sandy soils of O Bolo shaped a saline identity and the wines achieved a lot of elegance and balance. It’s a more heterogeneous vintage, and the higher-altitude vineyards behaved better. The 2020 O Soro is out of this world.
He gave me a quick preview of the very cold 2021, a vin de garde vintage but a challenging year with a lot of rain. They are in the process of certifying their vineyards (organic and biodynamic), but they have some problems in the vineyards with neighbors who are not organic, so it will probably be faster for O Soro and Sorte Antiga.”
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (259)