The Institute of Masters of Wine and the drinks business has announced Alvaro Palacios as the recipient of the 2016 Winemakers’ Winemaker Award.
Alvaro Palacios (centre) with Sarah Jane Evans MW, chairman of the institute of Masters of Wine, and Patrick Schmitt MW, editor-in-chief of the drinks business
The award is bestowed upon an individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the field of winemaking, and is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers that comprise all Masters of Wine who are winemakers, and the award’s past winners.
Previous winners of the award include Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), the late Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive (2014) and Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof (2015).
Receiving the award at a ceremony held at ProWein last night, Palacios said: “Owing to the rigour and values the Institute of Master of Wine represents, it is the highest honour for me to receive this acknowledgement as a wine producer. I feel deeply grateful, and hence I want to express enthusiastically my devotion for the work of such an inspiring institution, which I hope to be up the level”.
One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja’s Palacios Remondo, Palacios studied enology in Bordeaux, while working at Chateau Pétrus under Jean-Pierre Moueix, and could have returned to work the family business in Rioja. Instead, he chose to apply his winemaking knowledge to revive the the largely abandoned, ancient vineyards of Priorat. Located 60 miles from Barcelona, Priorat had been one of Spain’s important pre-Phylloxera wine regions.
He acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990. In 1993 he identified what is now regarded to be the “crown jewel” of the property in Priorat – a Garnacha vineyard on well-drained schist that had been planted between 1900 and 1940. Palacios named it L’Ermita.
In 1998, Palacios spread his wings to Bierzo in Spain’s north east, founding Descendientes de J. Palacios – named after Palacios’s father – with his nephew. The small domaine now produces as many as seven different wines, depending on the year.
“Àlvaro Palacios has already deservedly won many awards for his own wines, as well as for his exceptional contribution to the modern history of wine in Spain”, said Sarah Jane Evans MW, chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine. “This Award has the unique distinction of being voted for by winemakers. All of them as Masters of Wine are committed to excellence, and with this Award they recognise in Àlvaro Palacios’ work as a winemaker his own continued commitment to excellence.”