Álvaro Palacios


'L'Ermita' Garnatxa blend 2021


A conical, or bull-nosed, very steep hillslope. Facing north-east at 350-430 metres altitude, it’s planted to 92% Garnacha, with 7% Samsó (this goes into ‘Gratallops’) and a tiny bit of white (a mix of PX, Macabeu and Garnacha Gris). The soil is alive with minerals, not just its metallic blue-green slate (compared to the more ferrous pinky-brown slate of Dofi), but also zinc and aluminium. These are pre-Cambrian soils 300+ million years old formed deep (5-50 kilometres) in the earth’s crust, and which erupted in Priorat during the Carboniforous period (approximately 250 million years ago, similar to Bierzo, the Douro, Alsace and Cote Rotie). L’Ermita is planted at 4,600 vines/hectare, all trained ‘en parra’ (bush vines trained on a 2 metre pole) and tilled by mule. Harvested in late October, all berries are hand de-stemmed and selected, and the wine is fermented in open wooden vats then aged in new French barriques before bottling without fining or filtration.

The nose is glorious: great richness, open, imbued with movement through garriga smells of snipped sour herbs. Smoked berries are run through with bosky smell of sticks, lavender and sour-edged flower petals. Creamy, wild red berries are touched purple, sweet'n'sour with orange juicy acidity, opening to a mineral thrill at the end. Heavenly.