Single Bottle - Standard - 750ml
This red is rich with berry, cream and vanilla flavors, showing lively touches of herb and citrus. Shows a sweet, fruity character but maintains enough acidity for balance, remaining focused and graceful overall, with an underlying minerality and a long finish. Drink now through 2021. 120 cases made.
The 2011 L’Ermita suffers a bit in comparison with the nearly perfect 2010. Yields in 2011 were even lower than in 2010 (and both were relatively large vintages, as there will be no more than 500 bottles of 2012 or 2013), 3.64 hectoliters per hectare. It has a riper nose than the 2010 (aren’t comparisons awful?) with earthy notes of soil (beetroot?), peat, violets, ripe peach and juicy fruit flavors. It’s elegant yet powerful, ripe and with grainy tannins. It feels very organic, soil-driven, full and ripe. Today I prefer the palate to the nose. In case you’re interested in a second opinion, Alvaro Palacios himself was telling me how he prefers L’Ermita 2011 over 2010, which he finds fuller. Today we disagree, but maybe in a few years our opinions might converge. We’ll see. Drink 2015-2025. I’ve known Alvaro Palacios for a long time, and I’ve been drinking and following his wines since the beginning. He is, of course, one of the main culprits for the revival of Priorat (among other things). He, and I’d say the whole region, has been defining the identity of his wines and I believe he’s finally there. I remember in the old times, he used to tell me, “Priorat really starts in 1994.” Then a couple of years later I’d bump into him somewhere, and he’d tell me, “the story of Priorat REALLY starts in 1996,” and so on and so forth. He was looking for the true character of his wines and the region. And I believe he found it much later, when he realized he should focus on the local grape varieties to produce his wines, especially Garnacha. Since 2006 he hasn’t used any Cabernet Sauvignon for L’Ermita and he started re-grafting the Cabernet vines to Garnacha. He did the same in the family vineyards of Palacios Remondo in Rioja, really focusing on Garnacha. And finally in 2011 all his wines, except the entry level Camins del Priorat, a young, fresh, modern and more international style of wine, are produced exclusively with Garnacha and Carinena, with local grapes. They are re-grafting Cabernet to Garnacha in Priorat and in Alfaro, La Rioja, in the family vineyards of Palacios Remondo, they are also re-grafting Tempranillo to Garnacha. “But not because I am a Garnacha fan, it’s simply because it is the most appropriate variety for the warm climate of Alfaro, where the Tempranillo gets cooked,” Palacios said. “I’m just going back to what my father did when he started there, planting Garnacha. It’s similar in Priorat: Porrera and Poboleda are good for Carinena, but I think Garnacha does better in Gratallops.” He just finished harvesting when I met with him to taste the wines. 2013 is the latest harvest ever, they harvested L’Ermita on November 5, and they removed all the raisin by hand from the tiny bunches before the grapes were ready for fermentation. In 2013, this magical north-facing vineyard yielded one fifth of its average production. In 1996, he planted 1.5 additional hectares of L’Ermita (which will make a total of three hectares) so in the future there might be a little more wine from the vineyard but 2013 will be a very short vintage. The young vines are blended into Gratallops for now. I’m also looking forward to tasting the 2012s when bottled, as Alvaro is already talking about the best vintage in his 24 years in Priorat. It’s a bit of a paradox, and I’ve already seen it in other regions in Spain: the year was extremely dry and warm, but it got to a point where the plants got blocked and didn’t produce any more sugar or consumed acidity.