Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tour, Tasting and Lunch at Bodegas Palacio, with Winemaker Roberto Rodriguez, Rioja, Spain

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller at Bodegas Palacio with Winemaker Roberto Rodriguez

As part of the Sunday Tour of the 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference in Logroño, La Rioja, I visited Bodegas Palacio. We were treated to a wonderful vertical Cosme Palacio Crianza tasting and a lunch with more wine tastings, led by Winemaker Roberto Rodriguez.

In fact, the tasting took place at Hotel Restaurante Cosme Palacio, which is located in what was for decades the winery. Built in the second half of the 19th century, the freestone and rubble masonry architecture is the typical Riojan style of the time. It was renovated in 1990 and converted into a restaurant and hotel.

The 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Logroño, Rioja 

Bodegas Palacio

Bodegas Palacio was founded in 1894 by Don Cosme Palacio y Bermejillo, an entrepreneur from Bilbao, who went on to establish the legendary Vega Sicilia estate in Ribero del Duero. Today, Bodegas Palacio belongs to Hijos de Antonio Barceló, one of the largest Spanish largest winemaking conglomerates, itself part of the giant Acconia group.

After a period under French ownership in the 1980s, during which Bordeaux guru Michel Rolland consulted here, Bodeags Palacio was acquired in the 1970s by Seagram, followed by a Management Buy-out, when Seagram pulled out. The purchase in 1990 by Hijos de Antonio Barceló allowed for much needed investment in what is now one of the most modern wineries in the region.

Pictures: Annette and Christian G.E. Schiller at Bodegas Palacio with Winemaker Roberto Rodriguez

Bodegas Palacio buys in most of its fruit from a long-established network of contract growers, effectively controlling 255ha of vineyards, all in the Alavesa. It concentrates almost exclusively on Tempranillo and Viura. 3.5 million bottles are produced, a third of which are exported, the USA being the major customer. Bodegas Palacio houses one of the largest barrel cellars in La Rioja with more than 12,000 barrels, mostly made of French oak.

Bodegas Palacio produces a range of wines: Prestigious brand names such as Glorioso, a product line crafted using traditional methods dating back to 1928 (though its maturation – six months each in French and American oak – is hardly typical) and Cosme Palacio, relaunched in the 1980s by Michel Rolland and considered one of the first "Nuevos Riojas" signature wines as well as other wines such as Castillo Rioja, Pórtico and Milflores.

The head of winemaking, Roberto Rodriguez, has worked here since the age of 18. He has a deep understanding both of his craft and of the plots at the bodega’s disposal. “Our success is based on three key traits: a rigorous grape selection process, long and slow maturation, and the utilization of new barrels preferably of French oak.

Picture: Luiz Alberto - During the last #DWCC in Rioja I had the opportunity of capturing this "Christian Schiller moment" in the making...(by Luiz Alberto at TheWinehub)

At Bodegas Palacio, we combine traditional methods with the most advanced technologies in viticulture. Our modern installations allow us to completely control the production process (including pressure, temperature of fermentation using water sleeves, and day-to-day calibrations) which translates into getting the most from our grapes.

High quality fruit, slow and long maceration, and the use of new barrels (preferably of French oak) are the keys to the success of Bodegas Palacio.”


It was mid-day when we arrived at Bodegas Palacio. Our visit began with a brief tour of the historical cellar.

Pictures: Tour

Cosme Palacio Crianza Tasting

We then moved on for a Cosme Palacio Crianza vertical tasting.

Roberto Rodriguez: “Dating originally from 1897, Cosme Palacio was relaunched in 1989 with its 1986 Crianza as one of the first wines in Rioja to be produced in the new wave style. Cosme Palacio is characterized by a strict selection of the grapes, long macerations to extract all the color, structure and character of the fruit, combined with ageing in new French oak barrels.


Good vintage, intense ruby red, forthcoming and pure with a good balance between ripe, dark berry fruits and well integrated oak and a hint of minerality, rich and enjoyable, with ripe fruits, delicate tannins and a long, lingering finish.

Pictures: Cosme Palacio Crianza Vertical Tasting


Excellent vintage, intense ruby red, open and expressive with pure, ripe dark fruits and hints of tea leaves, aromatic herbs, and a mineral finish, full bodied with a complex, expressive and aromatic style, the finish is rich, multi-layered and long.

Pictures: Cosme Palacio Crianza Vertical Tasting


Excellent vintage, deep ruby red, intense, ripe dark fruits with well integrated new oak adding hints of vanilla, chocolate and mint, full-bodied and well balanced with noticeable acidity that adds freshness, ripe, dark fruits – plums and cherries – balanced by well integrated new French oak tannins and a rich, complex finish.”


We then moved to another room for a seated lunch.

Pictures: Lunch, with Annette Schiller and Luiz Alberto

Oak leaf lettuce salad with warm goat cheese and “arbequina” olive oil

Scrambled eggs with seasonal wild mushrooms

Steamed hake with squid and crispy shallots sauce (or Fillet steak with Cosme Palacio red wine sauce)

Chocolate soufflé

The Wines

Milflores Red 2012

A crianza in a fruity, fresh style.

Cosme Palacio 1894 White 2009

Palacio’s newest prestige project, named in honor of Palacio’s founder and year of establishment, and developed with input from consultant winemaker Sam Harrop MW. A remarkable Viura-based blend (90%), with a little Malvasia and Garnacha blanca, from very old, low-yielding vines grown at up to 800m. The Cosme Palacio 1894 red is 90% Tempranillo with 10% Graciano. The inaugural 2007 vintage was released in 2010.

Glorioso Reserva, Red 2008

Roberto Rodriguez: Temperature controlled (30ºC) fermentation on the skins of de-stemmed grapes. Long maceration between 25 and 30 days. Malolactic fermentation, clarification and fining. Aged in 225L Bordeaux type barrels of French oak for 18 months. Ageing in bottle: 18 months minimum.

Deep ruby red, ripe dark fruits balanced by well integrated oak and spice, rich, complex dark fruits with a long satisfying finish.

Glorioso Gran Reserva, Red 1978

Vinul Din Clui: An exquisitely aged wine, with terra cotta color, creamy consistency, lively acidity and surprisingly refreshing finish, was matched with a dark chocolate souffle and berries sauce.

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