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Alvaro Palacios – Les Terrasses, 2005

April 9, 2008

~US$30, Grenache/Carignan/Cabernet Sauvignon, Priorat Spain

I love Priorat wines for stories and soul that goes into the wines as much as the actual liquid. From accounts and photos of the area, it’s a beautiful and dangerous other-worldly terrain that would seem unlikely to be producing much in the way of agriculture/viticulture. But in the past 20 years,a small group of producers (led by Alvaro Palacios, Daphne Glorian, and Rene Barbier) have proven that through insanely hard work – world-class wines from indigenous varieties can be coaxed from the schisty, terraced cliffs.

Les Terrasses is Palacios’ entry-level Priorat cuvee, comprised of Grenache and Carignan with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon. Pop and poured – zingy acidity, red fruits, but tight and astringent – so I put it away for 2 days to see how it developed. Retasted and it put on wonderful complexity and weight. Bing cherry flavors melded with a deep, herbal spiciness – primarily lavender and thyme. Immediately comparable in flavors to a Chataueneuf-du-Pape, just lighter in body. The Cabernet brings some nice cedar and currant to the midpalate with an clean tannic lift. Signature Priorat wet-slate finish, which could be lengthier. Even after 2 days open it still had very dry tannins which mark this for pairings with fattier foods – it could make your gums a little too sticky on its own. There is clearly enough fruit here to carry this wine for another day or 2 in an open bottle, or probably till 2018+ in cellar.

Personally, this is a great value @ $30 – because it affords the ability to be played with over a week – and it’s just delicious and not mind-blowingly alcoholic or too fruity or oakey. This is a finessed wine that probably wont be revelatory to the wine-drinker buying Spanish wines in the $10-15 range – but for those who drink the pricier Rhones, Shiraz, and even certain Bordeaux, this wine will have you wondering why you’d want to spend 2x or 3x this price.

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