ALAVARO PALACIOS ERMITA 2014
The 2013 vintage was a very hard act to follow, as for me it was the best vintage ever, but the 2014 L'Ermita is also extremely impressive. The grapes from the mixed varieties found in the old vines (mostly Garnacha with around 8% Cariñena and 1% white grapes) planted in that north facing, cool amphitheater of Gratallops achieved amazing parameters, 14.8% alcohol with a pH of 3.16 (very low) and 6.3 grams of acidity. The destemmed and lightly crushed grapes always ferment in an oak vat with their natural yeasts followed by malolactic in barrique and an élevage of some 16 months. The grapes were harvested on October 28th, extremely late, but not as late as 2013, which was a record. But, 2014 was not as healthy as 2013 and there was some botrytis. Álvaro Palacios told me he had two guys at l'Ermita vineyard removing rotten grapes from the vines with tweezers for the last twenty-something days before they harvested it. It clearly paid back, as there is no trace of rot; in fact, the wine is ultra clean, floral and subtle, and despite not being light, the high acidity makes it feel a lot more ethereal than it really is. This time I really felt a descriptor Palacios often uses for this wine, pink grapefruit. Its acidity makes you salivate, but there is a silkiness in the texture like no other wine in the collection. Pit fruit, cherry and peach, pomegranate, dried roses, pink peppercorns, wet slate and acid berries. This is a l'Ermita for the long haul and at the helm with the very best vintages, flirting with perfection. Sheer class. 1,440 bottles were filled the 1st of April 2016. According to Álvaro Palacios, 2014 is a high acidity vintage in Priorat. There was a lot of rain during the harvest and the wind didn't blow until October 17th, so there was constant humidity, with focuses of botrytis, but the pH didn't go up. The grapes soaked up some water and the wines are on the light side with high acidity. Palacios told me this is the highest acidity vintage he has known in Priorat. The Camins is already in the 2015 vintage, a huge crop with good ripeness, but the rest are all 2014.