The Proust Q&A: Alvaro Palacios

17th April, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

Alvaro Palacios is one of the most pioneering winemakers in Spain. Born into a winemaking family in Rioja Baja, Palacios has ploughed his own furrow in Priorat where he makes tiny amounts of L’Ermita from a 1.5-hectare sloped plot planted with 70-year-old Garnacha vines. No more than 4,000 bottles are produced each year, with just 760 made in 2013.  His latest project is a “game changing” single vineyard Rioja made from Garnacha. He lives in Priorat with his wife and daughter.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

If I could have my time again then I’d have pursued my dream of being a bullfighter so my idea of perfect happiness would be having just won a fight against a giant bull and hearing the crowd roar with adoration. I still practice, but with small bulls. I love that bullfighters have no fear. There’s a lot of art in what they do.

What is your greatest fear? 

Something bad happening to my family.

Who do you most admire?

My father – he was a great example and role model to me.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Splashing out on the world’s finest wines – I spend a lot on Right Bank Bordeaux, Burgundy, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and old Barolo.

What is your current state of mind? 

I’m at peace with myself due to the wisdom of experience.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

Honesty, sensuality and eroticism.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife, Cristina.

When and where were you happiest?

When my daughter Lola was born.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Being able to sing and play the guitar beautifully – I have a go at both, but am not as good as I would like to be.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I am what I am and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have too many faults to change!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The stage I’ve got to with my wines and raising a family.

Where would you most like to live?

In Andalucía – it’s my second home.

What is your most treasured possession?

Nature.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Passion and romanticism.

What is it that you most dislike?

Bad taste.

What is your greatest regret?

I tend not to dwell on the past, it’s not healthy to do so.

What is your motto?

My heart beats 120 times a minute, I don’t have time for mottos.

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what wines would you serve them?

It would be a Spanish affair – I’d invite the legendary bullfighter and my hero José Tomás, flamenco singer Enrique Morente and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía. As for the wines, we’d begin with L’Ermita 2010, which was a magical year, and would move on to DRC 1985, ending the night on a high with Pétrus 1961.

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