Based in the lower part of Laguardia (Rioja Alavesa) since 1894, Bodegas Palacio is one of the ancient jewels of the Denomination. With brands such as Castillo de Rioja and Glorioso dating from the 20th century, it boasts a rich history full of anecdotes and prominent events.
Founder Cosme Palacio rented a winery in the Duero area to procure wine when phylloxera devastaded Rioja. That winery was Vega Sicilia and the winemaker who travelled there to oversee production was Txomin Garramiola, a Riojan who settled in the region and laid the foundations of what today is the legendary Único.
In the 1980s the winery played a decisive role in the modernisation of Rioja wines when a very young Michel Rolland was hired to help create Cosme Palacio red, aged entirely in French oak. The fruity character brought along a new style and meant that, for the first time, the top bottling in the winery was not a Reserva or Gran Reserva, but a simple Crianza. The reason: the use of new barrels reduced aging times. The Palacio family owned the winery until it was purchased by Domecq, which would soon be taken over by the Seagram corporation. In 1985 it was purchased by a group of investors led by Frenchman Jean Gervais and since 1998 it belongs to Hijos de Antonio Barceló – integrated in Acciona corporation–, with wineries in Ribera del Duero (Viña Mayor), Toro (Anzil), Rueda (Castillo de Dueñas), Castilla y León (Barceló Estates and Peñascal).
The two main ranges are based on brands Glorioso and Cosme Palacio. The first represents excellent value for money and includes Tempranillos such as the Crianza (€6), Reserva (€10) and Gran Reserva (€16). It is not as classic as it might seem at first sight and, although it shows moderate structure, it is fruit-driven and aged entirely in French oak.
Cosme Palacio wines show more consistency and balance. The brand is a tribute to the founder and comprises a barrel-fermented white (€7-8), a Reserva (€22) and a great value for money red Crianza (€13). Offering a higher quality than the average Crianza, it sits comfortably amid some good generic wines in the DO. Two higher quality labels without age indication have joined this range recently. They are both called Cosme Palacio 1894, a date that marks the winery's foundation date. The red (€55) is blended with Graciano whereas the opulent white (€40) has Viura and Malvasía fermented and aged in barrel.
Bodegas Palacio Reserva Especial is made from their oldest Tempranillo vines and has been aged in French oak for 20 months. It precedes the 1894 series, whose arrival has somehow crowded the premium level, specially taking into account the excellent quality of Cosme Palacio Crianza vintage after vintage.
Beyond the wines, a visit to Bodegas Palacio is highly recommended due to its charming original facilites. Different wine tours and tasting are also available.