Priorat's challenging terrain - the terraced vineyards sit between 100 and 700 metres
up craggy escarpments, others are buried miles deep in hidden valleys - could have proved to be an environment too demanding for many growers. Vines are planted wherever they may feasibly be cultivated, vintage is a nightmare and the yields are tiny. But Alvaro Palacios was convinced those hillsides were the key to vine-growing glory and the over-extracted logs of wood of the past could be fashioned into something spectacular. Alvaro and the likes of Parés Balta have turned Priorat into one of the fastest-growing, and certainly most fashionable wine regions in Spain. And if you think it's all hype, Al lobbied, and won, rare legislative recognition when Priorat was granted, in 2003, DOQ status, only the second region in the entire country to land such a prize catch.