Berry Bros – Wines of elegance & purity from Bierzo – 2020 Descendientes

Today, we are very pleased to have the latest releases of the 2020 vintage of Álvaro Palacios’ marvellous Descendientes de J. Palacios wines from the Corullón winery, in the region of Bierzo, North-Western Spain.

The terroir of Bierzo has similarities to that of Priorat, with its steep hillside vineyards of schistous soils. There is a different character of grape variety though – Mencía. As he had done in Priorat, Álvaro Palacios recognised the potential of the very old vines planted on the Bierzo hillsides, and in these outstanding wines he has fully realised this potential.

Descendientes de J. Palacios was founded in 1998 by Álvaro Palacios, with his nephew Ricardo Perez. Together they have helped to revolutionise winemaking in the region and brought worldwide attention to these special wines.

The Bierzo terroir gives perfect expression to the hugely attractive, individual character of the Mencía grape variety. It is notable for the enticing elegance of its fragrant, perfumed fruit, linked with a mineral freshness coming from the terroir, and a crisp structure which gives great cellar potential.

This character of Mencía together with the terroir of Bierzo, and its climate in Northwest Spain, makes it capable of producing wines which are compared to fine Burgundy and Pinot Noir. (This is mirrored in the fact that, like Pinot Noir, Mencía is particularly sensitive to when it is picked, with a narrow time window for perfect, balanced ripeness). The character shows in tasting notes which will regularly describe fresh, vibrant, pure red-berry or cherry fruit, floral and perfumed notes, and tender, silky tannins. I have even seen the Moncerbal described as “a great wine from Chambolle-Musigny”.

Our offer for the 2020 Descendientes de J Palacios range comprises three wines, all made predominantly from Mencía.

Corullón is the perfect introduction to the Descendientes de J. Palacios range. It is a “village” wine, skilfully blended from a selection of vineyard sources within the appellation.

 

Las Lamas and Moncerbal are two superb special cuvées, which compete for attention, made from a blend of a selection of the best vineyards. Both from very old vines (60-90 years old), from the best schistous soils, they offer two distinctive expressions of Bierzo …. Moncerbal is from a south-southwest facing location, giving a tendency to extra energy and crisp structure. Las Lamas is from a more directly south-facing location, and soils richer in clay, giving more flesh and generosity to the fruit – like a Gevrey-Chambertin to Moncerbal’s Chambolle-Musigny.

 

As these wines are just released, they do not yet have reviews or ratings from the main writers and reviewers. However, to give an idea of the very special, consistent quality here, which will make them wines to stand out in any cellar collection, these are ratings of past vintages from The Wine Advocate. 2020 was a vintage notable for a warm summer period, with perfect dry, sunny weather at picking time, which has given high quality wines with every potential to match this consistent level.

Please let me know if you would like some for your reserves, or if I can help with any questions about these wonderful wines for the cellar.

 

2020 Corullón, Descendientes de J Palacios
£132 per 6 bottle case in bond

“With its lifted, pure nose of red and black berries, this is a beautifully fragrant wine which is fine and elegant. The aromas are like summer pudding in a glass. The palate is so pure and mineral with fine notes of raspberry tea and earthy berries. There is an absolutely lip-smacking freshness to this and a gorgeous lick of fresh cranberries at the core. The wine has a crystalline focus and a beautiful elegance about it with an almost rainwater character. This is a wonderful Corullón.”
Catriona Felstead MW, BBR Senior Buyer

“Corullón is the ´vino de pueblo´ of the winery meaning ‘village wine’, made with a Mencía dominated blend. After swirling the glass, there’s notes of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, black plum and even a touch of fig are released showing its refined quality. It’s a vivid maroon colour and there are pronounced flavours of violets, lavender and toasted notes with a spicey, mineral finish. There is a magnetic energy running through this stunning wine with its poise, complexity and perfection.”
Josephine Owen, Private Account Manager

 

2020 Las Lamas, Descendientes de J Palacios
£192 per 3 bottle case in bond (very limited availability)

“Las Lamas is always softer and richer on the nose than the other Descendientes wines due to the clay in the soil of this vineyard. The 2020 has an almost raspberry and apple crumble character about its aroma. There is a real fragrance too with a musky scent, making it quite hedonistic. Gentle and rounded, it nonetheless has a focused purity at the back bringing everything into line. It is so refreshing, despite its weight, with almost with an orange peel lift and flaky tannins that are both very noticeable, yet dissolve easily on the tongue. This is a wine with gorgeous energy and a lovely, long finish.”
Catriona Felstead MW, BBR Senior Buyer

“The purity of fruit that comes through from the 60- to 100-year-old, biodynamically farmed vines is outstanding. Superbly fresh and crunchy redcurrants with ripe damsons and black cherries are perfectly accompanied by wafts of thyme and a black pepper spice. More weight and richness than its sibling ‘Monçerbal’ but with every component in balance, never feeling heavy. Ultrafine and silky tannins carry the wine through a long evolving finish. Recommended drinking 2025–2036.”
James Belok, Private Account Manager

 

2020 Moncerbal, Descendientes de J Palacios
£192 per 3 bottle case in bond (very limited availability)

“2020 Moncerbal has an overriding scent of just-rained-on stone, alongside pure, focused redcurrant fruit, all framed by red cherries. The wine has a gloriously floral bouquet of lilac, rose petals and lavender, topped off by a musky note of sandalwood. The palate has so much energy! Yet it is deceptively glossy and smooth with ultra-fine tannins that feel like velvet brushed against the nap. There’s an earthy finish to this though, with hints of clay and just the lightest touch of fresh, market-garden beetroot. This is a linear wine: straight up with indescribably pure minerality which leaves the palate feeling refreshed and quenched. The tannins are chalky and leave a fine sensation in the mouth with the quartz-like finish.”
Catriona Felstead MW, BBR Senior Buyer

“The purity of Mencía is showcased in Moncerbal, dominating the blend with 96%, along with a small portion of white field grapes. Aromas of crunchy redcurrants and raspberries leap from the glass, overlaid with a wonderful perfume of black rose petal and a touch of fennel. Finely cut and persistent, the palate exudes elegance with a seamless texture and interwoven chalky tannins, with beads of wild red fruit aligning its core. A crystalline flinty acidity gives this immense energy, it finishes long and lifted with a floral presence – it is incredibly precise and very moreish, urging you to back to start all over again. A true sensation and will impress if you’ve yet to discover its magic, recommended drinking from 2024 – 2035.”

Chris Lamb, Private Account Manager

https://www.bbr.com/

 

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