Rafael Palacios, Valdeorras, Spain
Superb Godellos from Spain's Valdeorras wine region

Rafael Palacios is from the Palacios Redondo family, and is the youngest of 9 brothers and sisters, aged 42. (Priorat superstar Alvaro was 7th of the 9; currently three brothers and one nephew make wine.) Rafael worked in the family winery in Rioja, studied in Bordeaux, and then went and worked in Australia with Southcorp, before returning to Rioja where his main contribution as the white wine ‘Placet’.

‘I started first by making white wines in the family winery (Palacios Remondo) after my studies in France and Australia, in 1994,’ he says. ‘In 1997 Placet was born, and in 2000 my father died. In 2004 I decided to move to Valdeorras.’

He had discovered Godello in 1996. ‘I found the Atlantic influence of Galician wines, but with some volume and depth,’ recalls. ‘Everyone thinks of Galicia as humid and cold. But of the 5 appellations, 4 have a Mediterranean influence in the summer.’

Since 2004 he has purchased/rented 21 hectares of vineyards in the Val do Bibei, consisting of 26 separate parcels, all on sandy granitic soils, and all planted with Godello.

Godello produces very small grape bunches, and Rafael says it has a big capacity to transform acidity, explaining that the juice isn’t so acid, but it does have a high percentage of tartaric acid, with less of the less stable malic acid. It’s a fragile variety in that winds can break the shoots.

It is so dry in summer that he needs to get rid of the plant growth under and between the vines by cultivation. The soils here are eroded granite, and drain very well, which adds to water pressure. So in some vineyards he uses a straw mulch.

The grapes are hand harvested and pressed very carefully. One of his presses is for a single barrel: 800 kg of grapes, yielding 500 litres. Lauro is fermented in 3000 litre foudres, but Rafael prefers cylindrical/conical to oval foudres because the lees aren’t so deep. ‘I believe in oak,’ he says. ‘When you control the oxygen through the oak you make more clean and fresh wines. It is contradictory.’

He works a lot with 500 litre barrels, and these have their own cooling system. There are two holes in them, with one for cooling. Each year, 20% of these barrels are replaced with new ones.    


Rafael Palacios Bolo Mountain Wine Godello 2011 Valdeorras, Spain
This unoaked Godello is tight, fresh and citrussy with lovely depth of flavour. There are fresh citrus and herb notes, as well as a hint of toast and some pithiness. Very pure and fresh with good concentration. 91/100

Rafael Palacios Lauro 2011 Valdeorras, Spain
Fine, fresh and expressive with grapefruit, pear and white peach notes. Finely expressive palate is concentrated and intense with lovely pure pear fruit and subtle nut and toast, as well as some grapefruit freshness. 93/100

Rafael Palacios Lauro 2009 Valdeorras, Spain
Nutty and slightly honeyed with some peach and pear notes. Lively palate is fresh with complex toasty notes. Mineral, fine and concentrated with nice acidity and complex pear and peach fruit. Rich but precise. 92/100

Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2011 Valdeorras, Spain
Fine, fresh and expressive with aromas of nuts, citrus and herbs. The palate is lively and ripe with pear, peach, citrus and some spice. Fine toasty notes, as well as apples. Lively, precise and intense. 93/100

Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2009 Valdeorras, Spain
Taut, mineral, precise nose of citrus and herbs. The palate has grapefruit and melon notes: very taut with a bit of reduction. Mineral and fine with real freshness as well as richness. 94/100

Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2007 Valdeorras, Spain
Rounded and textured with honey and nuts.  Warm, rounded, intense palate is fruity with sweet honey and nut notes. Broad and quite rounded but with a nice fresh mineral acid core. Crystalline. 92/100

Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2005 Valdeorras, Spain
Concentrated, fine and expressive. Mineral with some grapefruit and lemon notes as well as white peach, pear and honeyed richness. Fine and refined with real personality. 94/100

Rafael Palacios Sorte O Soro 2011 Valdeorras, Spain
Late harvested wine from 740 m altitude, first vintage, 100% new oak. Fine, expressive, aromatic nose of taut citrus and grapefruit. Crystalline pear, peach and citrus fruit palate is precise and mineral with lovely depth. Swallows the new oak really well. 94/100, potentiall more in time

UK agent is Indigo Wine

See also:

Terroir al Limit, Priorat
Visiting Rioja (series)

Wines tasted 02/13  
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