The Proust Q&A: Alvaro Palacios17th 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.
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.
My wife, Cristina.
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?
What is your most marked characteristic?
Passion and romanticism.
What is it that you most dislike?
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.