It always pleasant to witness generous things being said about talented people. In a concise and narrowly focused article on Bierzo and Valdeorras, Richard Hemming, a contributor for JancisRobinson.com, singled out Verónica Ortega and Rafael Palacios as among the “Five Wineries Worth Seeking Out.”
Verónica is an old friend of European Cellars having worked with Daphne at Clos Erasmus several years ago. When she settled in Bierzo working along side Raúl Peréz while starting up her own project – focusing on old vine Mencia and Godello planted near the village of Valtuille de Abajo – we were not only pleased for her, but excited to represent her wines. These are remarkably poised, lively and savory wines trading on the ethereal and nuanced side of Mencia rather than brawn or extraction. Richard Hemming says it best:
“Verónica Ortega’s wines are no secret to the residents of Valtuille de Abajo, then – but they are a discovery-in-waiting for much of the world at large.”
Rafa Palacios has been in Valdeorras for well over ten years now which in the US would make him a native but in the tiny world of Val do Bibei, the sub-zone of Valdeorras where he tends about 25 hectares of vines, being considered indigenous usually takes generations. Yet despite this fact Rafa is a popular person in the tiny villages of this remote part of Valdeorras. Driving with him to see his scattered vineyards via narrow, winding roads is frequently interrupted by old farmers waving for him to stop to share some local gossip, news about vineyards available and catching up on family and friends. This friendly, respectful and gregarious side of Rafa pairs perfectly with his love of racing motorcycles in describing his wines – timeless, poised and rooted but thrilling and exciting at the same time.
Cheers to both Veronica and Rafa for the praise, well earned.