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Château Palmer

Chateau Palmer

Address: 33600 Cantenac

Telephone: +33 (0)5 57 88 72 72

Website: www.chateau-palmer.com

Château Palmer owes its name to a flamboyant British Major-General Palmer who bought the estate from the Gascq family in 1814. Classified a third growth in 1855, this wine has been a well-known ‘super second’ for many years, and is capable of producing some of the Medoc’s most seductive and perfumed wine. The 1961 has a legendary reputation for being every bit as good as the first growths in that famous vintage. The same is also true of the 1983 and 1989 vintages. In the past decade the wines have been even more impressive – and so have been the prices. The 2009 and 2010 are simply wonderful, the 2011 thrilling, one of the wines of the vintage. It pips Château Margaux in that vintage. Alter Ego de Palmer was introduced in 1998. This has come on in recent years and represents reasonable value. It’s more forward than the grand vin, less a second wine more a different stylistic statement and a wine intended for much earlier drinking. Thomas Duroux took over the management of the estate in 2004 at the age of 34. He is a formidably talented man and the property has since gone from strength to strength. Palmer has special memories for me in that I worked an enjoyable vendange there in 1988.

Vineyard/Soils: 55 hectares in the commune of Cantenac, most of the plots on the higher rises of ‘Guntz’ gravel on the Margaux plateau by the Garonne estuary.  Equal percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon [47%] and Merlot [47%] in the vineyard with the remainder made up of Petit Verdot. 10,000 vines per hectare.

Winemaking/Elevage: The vat room was entirely reorganised in 1995 and houses 42 stainless steel vats of different sizes allowing for parcel by parcel fermentations. New wood for the Grand Vin is between 50-60% depending on the vintage and between 25-40% for Alter Ego.

  • 2015 Deep and saturated colour; very healthy looking; colour tight to the rim; intense and jam packed on the nose; tight seam of fruit; very pent up ball of fruit here; some violet lift on aeration; great palate – very full; concentrated but with great suppleness to the tannins; this is concentrated; super concentration and power but without any sense of over extraction; excellent length. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 14.1% alc 70% new oak]. Drink 2023-2040. 96-98+
  • 2014 Bolder colour; tighter to rim; perfume; mineral note; little subdued; apparent depth; tight; nice fruit on the palate; tight and focused; bit closed on the day; layers and pent up; freshness. Clean fruit. Proportional. Nice length; Pretty long. Impressive on the palate and the finish. Concentrated and tight on the palate; lots of density and focus; tight. Proportional fruit with plenty of extract; lots of chew and density on the finish; extract. Length is very good. [49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2021-2035. Tasted 31 March, 2015 at Château Palmer. 94-95+
  • 2013 Deep and saturated; very bold colour for the vintage; very vibrant at edge; creamy fruit; very pure and layered; real plushness; very attractive fruit on entry but concentrated; muscular in the middle but moves towards a nicely measured and well-mannered finish. Excellent effort. [49% Merlot, 51% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted at Palmer April 2014. Drink 2018-2030. 91-93
  • 2012 Deep and saturated; colour right up to rim; lots of saturated fruit with a little oak present at the edge; very deep; focused and precise; very plush too; lots of saturation on the palate; voluptuous and yet also a lot of density and layers to this; very nice length and excellent concentration for the vintage. Will be a beauty early on. 13.5 degrees alc, 48% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. 94-96. Tasted at the chateau Thursday, April 11, 2013. Drink 2018-2030
  • 2011 Deep and tight to the edge; legs; immediately this feels a powerful wine on the nose; layers of fruit here and lots of depth; freshness and violet perfume too on aeration; wonderful palate with really bright, vibrant fruit qualities; pretty structured but there is a velvet jacket here too, hiding the muscles; layers of fruit; cassis; blackcurrant; violet notes. Precise in the mouth; very good length. Despite the obvious concentration feels elegant. Brilliant. 55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5% alc 95-96+ Drink 2020-2035+
  • 2010 Deep and attractive colour; creamy aromatics; full and very plush with some oak resin but lush blackcurrant and plums tones; little earth; loaded with fruit on the nose but more tightly packed than Lascombes; very caressing palate; very plush and complete; lots of extract here but impeccably handled; tannins ripe and no trace of hardness [though tannin levels considerable]; lots of extract and depth here with great length. Long future ahead. Great wine. Drink 2018-2045. 98 MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Dense and saturated colour; tight to the rim; quite dense; ripe, cassis and blackcurrants; very layered nose, seam of ripe fruit, very perfumed; lots of depth; deep and layered; good and clean, quite ‘cool’ feel and fresh; concentrated and tannic palate but nicely done; chewy and dense. Lots of life and grip here. 2009 is more flamboyant but this extremely good and not far behind at all. In fact, given time it may be the other way around. Let’s see. Super wine. [54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, alc 14.5%] 95-96+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at the Chateau. Drink 2020-2040+
  • 2009 Deep and saturated looking; inky; some resin; red fruits and lift; menthol; pretty intense nose but has lost some of that gloss it displayed from barrel; palate very clean, nice blackcurrants with chew and tannin; lots of flavour here and very, very good palate overall. Still seductive but shutting down a fraction. Still deceptively powerful. Drink 2016-2035 96+ MW Institute, Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Opaque at centre; deep to rim; legs and tears; very deep nose, quite luscious, lots of layers, wonderful ripeness here; very ripe palate, lush and jam packed with fruit but extraction in check here, not a hint of dryness; lovely wine on the palate; just layers and layers of wonderfully ripe velvety fruit; very intense but also surprisingly supple with terrific length. Very fine tannins. You can almost drink this now. One of the wines of the vintage surely? Hot on the heels of Chateau Margaux’s 2009 elixir. 96-98+/100 Drink now-2035+ Nov ’10
  • 2008 Deep and attractive looking; some chalk and minerality, some blackcurrant lift; chocolate and mocha notes; depth to the palate; feels a bit chunky and chewy with tannin at the end. Chewy wine. Little shut down compared with it’s showing a couple of years back – needs ten years. 90+ MW Institute Nov ’12 [Earlier] Deep red purple at edge; denser than the Alter Ego. Very fresh and very precise nose; lovely perfume, violets, roses and red fruits; quite delineated and intense; very fine nose indeed; layered wine on the palate, quite plush with structure and later tannin and acid; quite layered and length is good; acid, fresh and quite grippy. Still manages to be silky and has good length 92-94/100 Drink 2015-2025 Nov ’10
  • 2007 Nice deep colour; looks promising; legs; earthy notes followed by meaty tones; some plushness; pretty full and deep; blackcurrant notes; nice palate and feels like really fine Bordeaux; chewy tannin but sufficient density of flavour. Excellent length. Very successful effort for the vintage. 92+/100 Drink now – 2025 MW Institute Nov, 11
  • 2006 Deepish core, tight to the rim; nice intensity here on the nose, blackcurrants, some lift and oak; nose opens up nicely to reveal tar, molasses and some tobacco elements alongside the blackcurrants; quite a full meaty nose here with layers and some seduction; sweet entry, ripe and polished palate with structure here, some leaf and faintest of meanness to the tannin but there is lots of fruit here and some coffee and chocolate notes too. There is elegance and the overall length seems good. 90-92/100 Tasted MW Institute Nov ’10 Drink 2015-2025
  • 1994 Deep, purple at rim; fruit; stalky component; quite tight; good structure and firm acid & tannins. 88/100  Tasted as assemblage Nov 95
  • 1988 Mid red; perfumed, leather and roasted notes; warm; olives and tapenade; most nuanced ’88 I’ve had; really velvety palate – soft and refined with great balance. Quite excellent 92/100 Apr 08 [Earlier note] Mid red, some development but no brown, some tea and leafy notes with some tobacco. Mature Bordeaux – not fabulous complexity or sexiness – palate sweet entry, fully mature, tea, mushrooms and undergrowth/charcoal characters – soft and elegant finish with a little grip at the end, a tannic twist. 88-89/100 Jan 08
  • 1985 Rusty red, mahogany at edge, darker at core; tobacco and roasted notes, some tar alongside mushrooms and undergrowth on nose; roasted meaty palate soft and supple, little lose on the finish. 89/100 Dec 03 
  • 1978 Red brown; tobacco and spice; blackcurrants on nose; same flavours carry onto the palate; soft and mellow; mature and soft. Good. 88/100 Mar ‘96 Probably fading now.
  • 1975 Mahogany; little tired and not glossy; some roast, cedar and spice but fading with VA creeping in; palate austere and angular; dry with a sourness to it – some blood and meat but very faded. Giscours a much better ’75. Palate also tails off. 82/100 Dec ‘04 Past best.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux

  • 2015 Mid depth, earthy purple; lots of fruit; quite strong; fatness here; but also some strength; fresh acidity; good texture; elegant style; supple at the end; some sap and chew on the finish but satisfying. [52% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 37hl/ha]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+
  • 2014 Mid depth; purple at edge; pretty fruit; some fatness; black cherry; mineral quality; sense of proportion; little perfume lift; extract; structure; little cool sample; little subdued; proportional though with some finish. Opened up in the glass nicely to reveal perfumed, black cherry notes and lots of extract and texture on the palate. Good stuff! [52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted 31 March, 2015 at Château Palmer. 90-92
  • 2013 Deep and saturated look; vibrant at edge; legs in the glass; attractive fruit on the nose; nicely layered and composed; attractive fruit on the palate; pretty sturdy with nice sap and chew. Sturdy and solid. Goodish length on the finish. [46% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot]. Tasted at Palmer April 2014. Drink 2017-2023. 87-88+
  • 2012 Deep and saturated; very bright; tight to edge; lots of ripe fruit on the nose; pretty; almost some fatness; lush and layered; very sweet and ripe entry; lush fruit; nice tension on the finish; very polished but lots of pretty fruit. 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet 9% PV 13.4 alcohol 91-93. Tasted at Chateau Palmer Thursday, April 11, 2013. Drink 2018-2025
  • 2011 Deep and dense looking; lovely perfume on the nose; attractive fruit; vibrant; quite seductive and floral; deceptive wine; lots of strength and density here; real substance; this is a substantial effort. 48% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot. 13.5% alc 90-92 Drink 2018-2025 Tasted April ’12
  • 2010 Deep; creamy ripe blackcurrants; pretty seductive; quite intense with grip, more grip on the palate. Freshness here, despite the 14.5 degrees alcohol. In fact pretty lively on the palate. Great effort. 90-92/100 [51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot] Tasted 7 April 2011 at Chateau Palmer. Drink 2015-2025+
  • 2009 Intense and more saturated colour; up to edge; lots of fruit on the nose; almost summer fruit compote; redcurrants, raspberries and blackcurrants; almost fat; great richness to the nose; lots of sweet ripe red fruits on the palate too; very intense and really caresses the palate; wonderful wine on the palate; power here and fruit driven; lots of material and extract; velvety quality here with good length. Quite pure in style. Good length. 92+/100 Drink now – 2025. Tasted Nov ’10 
  • 2008 Deepish; earthy red at edge; legs; very soft, perfumed nose; some tobacco, quite forward soft red fruits; round; quite meaty palate with some grip, some chew and extract. Still needs to settle, structure and grip; lacks a bit of length. 88+/100 Drink 2015-2020. Tasted Nov ’10
  • 2000 Dense colour; pent up classical nose, tobacco, violets and red fruits with lift; palate taught and well defined with good acid and balance. Elegant – I thought this was a 1996. 88/100 Feb ’06 Drink n0w – 2020
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Palmer’s formidable 2011 – made from the lowest yields at the estate since the legendary 1961

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