With Alvaro Palacios' background, it's no surprise he's leading the pack of new superstar Spanish winemakers. The industry is in his blood, as his family owns respected Palacios Remondo in Rioja. Family ties don't produce great wine, though, and Alvaro has done plenty on his own to bolster his qualifications. He studied enology in Bordeaux, then worked at Chateau Petrus under Jean-Pierre Moueix, honing his winemaking skills. Instead of taking his experiences back to his family's estate, he blazed a new path straight to Priorat's steep hills and terraces. In 1990 he bought his first vineyard, Finca Dofi, and soon after added to it what has become his most acclaimed source, L'Ermita. The vineyard, planted between 1900 and 1940, faces northeast and offers up Garnacha meriting mass critical acclaim. Alvaro's lofty vision has been to craft a wine somewhere between a Petrus and a Grange; a cursory glance at the reviews makes his accomplishment immediately clear. His three wines: Les Terraces, Finca Dofi, but most importantly L'Ermita, have launched him to absolute cult status.