In the late 1980s, while traveling around Spain selling French oak barrels, Álvaro Palacios realized that two quasi-abandoned vineyard areas in northern Spain had great untapped potential. Álvaro was convinced that Priorat in Catalonia and Bierzo, at the border of Castile and Galicia in northwest Spain, could be used to create something special. Like Priorat, Bierzo’s old vineyards, on steep rocky slopes, had been largely abandoned because the wine couldn’t be sold at a price sufficient to justify the labor.
Álvaro started first in Priorat, where he achieved worldwide fame with his “L’Ermita” and “Finca Dofi.” In 1998, he formed a partnership with his nephew Ricardo Pérez, and together they established the Bierzo winery, Descendientes de José Palacios (José being Álvaro’s father and Ricardo’s grandfather), or DJP for short. Here, in schist-dominated slopes around the village of Corullón, Ricardo has fully embraced biodynamics and is crafting organic Mencia-based wines with finesse and complexity more reminiscent of Burgundy than more typically powerful Spanish reds.