Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos del Bierzo 2013
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Absolutely gorgeous, plush, elegant and floral - trademark roses and pepper tree perfume, bright and earthy at once, red fruits hybridised with the juice of rose petals, peppercorn and roast meat juice. It's very savoury, elegant, satiny but dry, long and supple with sour cherries and dried sage.
Always among the best values of Spain, the 2013 Pétalos del Bierzo has an extra degree of freshness in a cool vintage, and some time in bottle always does this wine wonders. It's aromatic, open and expressive, with floral aromas and bright fruit, wild strawberries and violets. This is always a subtle, medium-bodied wine, with fine tannins, sleek acidity and a fine minerality. Ready now. This should be readily available as there were some 380,000 bottles produced.
The reds from Descendientes de José Palacios are always a field blend of old vineyards where Mencía dominates, but there's always a small percentage of other grapes, even some whites. 2013 and 2014 are quite similar vintages, cool years that will evolve slowly. 2013 was a typical cool year of the Bierzo, rainy and fresh (similar to 2006 and 2007), with a very difficult harvest, where sorting was key (they hadn't used the sorting table for four years); the wines have developed much better than expected. These are wines of finesse, a notch below 2012, perhaps not as complete.
They are currently building a new winery between their Moncerbal and Las Lamas vineyards (in the quarter Chao do Pando of the village of Corullón), designed by Rafael Moneo, where they hope to vinify the 2017 vintage. There will be four stories, all by gravity, buried in the hill, with natural temperature (70% of the winery will be underground) and humidity.
I tasted all of the vintages of Pétalos del Bierzo since the initial 2003 and none of them were over the hill, although their peak seemed to be at around 8-10 years after the vintage. The 2003 was quite surprising, as it didn't show any heat and showed developed aromas closer to a northern Rhône than a Burgundy. Other than 2003, some of my favorite vintages were 2006, 2010 and 2012. In 2003 they did even longer macerations, thinking about a wine to keep, but later they started with shorter macerations in search of a more drinkable wine.
Score: 92, Luis Gutierrez
Expressive flavors of black cherry, currant, licorice, mineral and smoke mingle in this focused red. The texture is gentle but firm, with well-integrated tannins and racy acidity providing structure. A compact wine that shows good intensity. Drink now through 2023. - T.M.
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