Promotional featureOne of Rioja’s most esteemed producers; but it hasn’t limited itself to just the one region, having spread its wings over recent years, setting up home in Toro, Rueda and Ribera del Duero, where it continues to blend its hallmarks of both tradition and innovation...
Onwards and upwards’ should be Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894’s motto. It certainly does not like to take a backward step and seems it hasn’t done so since its foundation towards the end of the 19th century.
Yet, despite its illustrious history, the cornerstones of its modern-day success are based on its dynamism, diversification and an eye for the future.
‘Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894 aims to form part of the wave of innovation in the Spanish wine sector,’ says managing director Antonio Soto. ‘To achieve this goal, we offer standout products that bring value to society and aid in the diffusion of wine culture, alongside one of our key guiding principles of sustainability.’
As part of this ongoing development it has bolstered its ranks in recent years with the addition of technical director Almudena Alberca in 2015. A gifted winemaker – currently studying for the Master of Wine qualification – she oversees the production at Viña Mayor’s plantings in Toro, Rueda and Ribera del Duero, and has played a pivotal role in revamping existing wines in addition to launching new brands (another indicator of the group’s ongoing innovation).
Rioja is the home of Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894, but the group has a clutch of other fine Spanish wineries under its umbrella, including Viña Mayor based in Ribera del Duero, Finca Anzil in Toro and Finca Caserio de Dueñas in Rueda.
Situated in what’s known as the ‘Golden Mile’ of Ribera del Duero, Viña Mayor burst onto the scene in 1986, making it one of the first wineries to be established in this classified region. Two of its key and most impressive wines are El Secreto and its Reserva.
The former is a finely crafted offering, with the handpicked and carefully sorted fruit being aged for 10 months in French barrels (of varying degrees of both size and toast), before spending a minimum of another six months in bottle.
Meanwhile the Reserva is archetypal Ribera. Coming from vines that have been in the ground for between 50 to 70 years, the berries go through a meticulous, double-selection process; the resulting wine being left to mature for two years in an equal blend of small French and American oak barrels.
Finca Caserio de Dueñas has a heritage stretching back to the 17th century when the fields here comprised a humble farming village. The hamlet grew and vineyards were eventually planted, and today they spread to almost 300 hectares, encompassing a manor house as well as a weathered chapel.
At Caserio de Dueñas one of its stars is the Verdejo Superior which has collected some impressive scores over the years. The fruit comes from a specifically selected number of sites, each chosen for what they can bring to the final blend; be it minerality, acidity or body. Once harvested at the coolest of temperatures in order to retain their aromatic profile, the grapes undergo a gentle pressing before being fermented, then placed in bottle for five months. It is a fine expression of Rueda Verdejo.
Despite these expansions and additions to wineries it now runs, Rioja is still Palacio’s heartland. It has never taken its eye of the ball when it comes to the Bodegas Palacio estate, as exemplified by the overhaul of the winery’s facilities as well as introducing a comprehensive range of visitor packages and attractions geared to open customers’ eyes to the special sub-region of Rioja Alavesa in the shadow of the Sierra Cantabrian mountains.
Its vineyards here are south-facing, planted on chalky-clay soils at high altitude and enjoy both Mediterranean and Atlantic influences, delivering a special microclimate.
Winemaker at Bodegas Palacio is Roberto Rodriguez whose father and grandfather were also both heavily involved in the trade. Rodriguez has worked for the estate for more than 30 years and in that time has been lucky enough to work with a clutch of esteemed wine professionals, including a nine-year partnership with consultant Michel Rolland (this was Rolland’s first Spanish venture), which have helped shape his philosophy in the cellar.
The flagship of Bodegas Palacio is its Cosme Palacio Reserva. Quintessential modern Rioja, it is formulated from old vines where only the best of grapes make the cut, before undergoing an extended maceration and malolactic fermentation in French oak. The wine is then transferred into new, lightly toasted, 225-litre French oak barrels, from a specifically selected group of cooperages, for 18 months before spending at least another two years in bottle before being released.
Other than supplementing its growth within its own country, Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894 has expanded by concreting its presence in more than 40 different markets, including Latin America, the UK, USA and Canada.
‘We are working to construct a business model that seeks mutual success for both our clients and our wineries. We have a broad portfolio that allows us to respond to various consumer needs,’ says Soto.
Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894 may have its roots firmly set in Spain but it has had the foresight to branch out, not only within its own country but beyond its borders, demonstrating that it can deliver the best Spain can offer.