From Rare Wine Co.:
During the late 1980’s, Alvaro Palacios travelled his native Spain selling French barriques to winemakers. But his journeys had a second purpose: to find the best place to achieve his goal of making Spain’s greatest wine.
He ultimately decided, in 1990, on Priorato, where he would achieve worldwide fame with “L’Ermita” and “Finca Dofi.” But there had been a close contender: Bierzo. It had all the ingredients that Alvaro wanted—incredibly steep hillside vineyards, distinctive terroirs and, most importantly, ancient vineyards of Mencía—a unique red grape believed brought by French pilgrims during the Middle Ages.
The idea of making great wine from old-vine Mencía never left Alvaro, and his experience in Priorato—particularly with L’Ermita—convinced him of Bierzo's enormous potential. Meanwhile, his nephew Ricardo Perez had finished enological studies in Bordeaux and was travelling across France—absorbing everything he could about great wines. He worked the harvest at Château Margaux, and did internships at other Bordelais firms like Moueix (Pétrus, Trotanoy, etc.). He also visited Alvaro frequently and came to share a belief in Bierzo's potential. In 1998, the two decided on a joint venture and set out in search of the region’s finest old vineyards.
Alvaro and Ricardo found promising sites in a number of villages but shortly came to believe that the greatest potential lay in a little town on Bierzo's western border named Corullón. Old vineyards lined the precipitous hillsides there, and the local soils were extremely poor—composed mostly of schist—but with incredible diversity. The minute variations in soils and exposures across this zone immediately reminded the two of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, or Piedmont’s Langhe hills. In Corullón, Alvaro and Ricardo believe they have found a unique combination of soils, old vines, and a distinctive variety that will yield their own grands crus. Beginning with 2001, the estate began to make their case with individual vineyard bottlings.
The winery is dedicated to Alvaro’s father, and Ricardo’s grandfather, who passed away in early 2000. The wines are a worthy tribute to the man who inspired them.
Seven wines are made. The first, Pétalos del Bierzo, is assembled from old hillside and hilltop vines from across Bierzo’s western edge. The wine is vinified for immediate appeal, but it retains the estate’s signature finesse and restraint.
Corullón is an assemblage from old-vine parcels in and around this town. Its combination of generosity and precision makes a case not only for Corullón’s special status, but also the superiority of Alvaro’s and Ricardo’s winemaking.
The 1999 & 2000 vintages each received 93-point ratings from The Wine Spectator, while Robert Parker, Jr. said Corullón “may be the finest wine of the appellation.” There are, in addition, five extraordinary single-vineyard wines made: San Martin, Fontelas, Moncerbal, Las Lamas and La Faraona. Each is a distinctive expression of a remarkable and compelling terroir.