2017 Bodegas Rafael Palacios As Sortes

Valdeorras, Galicia, Spain SPAIN
Wine Style
Dominant Grape
Farming Style
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Wine Score
94 points, Luis Gutierrez, robertparker.com, February 2019
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Media Reviews

Luis Gutierrez

The 2017 As Sortes was bottled in September 2018, a good couple of months before I tasted it next to the 2016. It`s always interesting to be able to taste two consecutive vintages together, as it`s easier to see the differences between the two years. This 2017 seems to have plenty of power without loosing its freshness. The élevage in 500-liter barrels with fine lees was a little longer, up to eight months. Most of the grapes used for this 2017 were from the second harvest of the second sprouting of the grapes that were burned by frost, which means a short cycle (even if the finish was slow) and grapes with vibrant acidity. I say this because the year was warm, and there is no heat in this wine at all. In fact, it`s very fresh, with crystalline purity, poised, elegant and nuanced. I am truly impressed by this 2017, which feels very young and undeveloped but with great potential. Truly impressive. Quantities were reduced because of the severe spring frosts.18,900 bottles produced. 94 points

Rafael Palacios works 32 plots of old-vine Godello in the Bibei Valley of Valdeorras. In 2016, the spring was cold and wet like yesteryear, and we can talk about a classic year, with a late ripening of healthy grapes that delivered fresh wines with good acidity that provides great aging potential. 2016 seems to be a great harvest, with perfect phenolic ripeness, as the grapes ripened very slowly and very late. As for 2017, the natural concentration provided by the low yields resulted in unusual power with vibrant acidity that also experimented with the effect of the concentration. They did two harvests that were almost one and a half months apart. The first harvest included grapes from the vines that didn`t suffer a 100% loss from the frost, which delivered an early, small, ripe and concentrated crop. The plants that had to start again from scratch were harvested much later, and thus, the second harvest included the grapes that were a second sprouting that happened after the frost. If the average production is around 260,000 bottles, in 2017 they only produced 140,000, as almost half of the crop was destroyed by frost. Two years to follow up in bottle. I didn`t taste anything from 2018, but it has also been a challenging vintage, with mildew that decimated around 40% of the volume of the harvest. Despite the challenging conditions, their vineyards are all being certified organic, and three of their plots—O Soro, Sorte Antiga and Sorte Souto (where they are trying to produce a sweet wine)—are also being certified biodynamic by Demeter. In the future, all plots that provide grapes for As Sortes should also be certified by Demeter.

I found the wines to be very pure, serious and a little closed and reticent, as they took time to open up in the glass and evolve very slowly. They seem to have gained precision in the last few years, and they reckon it`s through viticulture, working organically and removing all the chemicals that had been used in the vineyards before they took them over. They have not really reduced the amount of oak, but it feels much better integrated. They have also been able to reduce the amount of sulfur used on the vines. This is one of the best white wine-only projects in Spain.

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