Château Palmer, the Jewel of Margaux

Château Palmer is a (beautiful) winery located in Margaux, in the Médoc region next to Bordeaux. A third growth in the 1855 official classification, I consider Palmer, in terms of quality, a second growth. Certain years, this wine is even comparable to its famous and closest neighbor, Château Margaux.

British General Charles Palmer acquired this estate in 1814. Following the example of fellow citizens Kirwan and Brown, he would make Palmer’s Claret extremely popular in London. After financial problems, he sold it to two bankers, the Péreire brothers. The new owners kept buying land and extending Palmer, forming today’s exceptional terroir. They also commissioned a talented architect to build the actual “castle”. Unfortunately, after mildew, phylloxera, and the economic crisis of 1929, the Péreire were forced to sell the Château to four families of Bordeaux wine merchants.

This 135 acres estate is planted with 47% of Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% of Merlot and 6% of Petit Verdot. The major part of the vines is located in the village of Cantenac and a smaller part in the village of Margaux. The soils consist of Garonne gravel deposits (legacy of the Quaternary period), a base shared by all of the best Médoc wines, especially the “ones looking at the river” like Palmer.

The specificity of this wine is the large amount of Merlot in its blend. Cabernet Sauvignon, the “king grape” of Médoc, usually gives better results on these gravelly and sandy soils/subsoils. Moreover, it tends to be used over Merlot more and more over the last few years. On the other hand, Château Palmer doesn’t and yet produces one of the finest wines there is. In this place, the terroir gives to the wine its identity and taste, more than the grape itself. This is the proof that the terroir should be the most important factor when it comes to making quality wine. It is also interesting to know that Palmer will be an organic wine very soon, and three cows are about to strengthen their team!

Château Palmer is a classic Bordeaux growth : refined rather than exuberant, elegant rather than exaggerated. After 10 to 15 years of storage, you’ll be charmed by its perfect balance, refined aromas, long finish and its fine grain of tannin. This wine is always a safe bet, and its consistency over the years (even on a bad vintage) is remarkable.

Alter Ego is the second label of Palmer. There is usually a little more Merlot in the blend than in the first one. Not as complex and a little easier to approach, its fruit-driven personality is extremely enjoyable. It does not need as much time to mature in a cellar and will be ready to drink much faster.

Tasting


Alter Ego 2008 : Pleasant nose. Intense notes of red fruits. Floral as well. On the palate, it is delicious. Good body and nice tannins. Extremely fruity. Finish of good length and very aromatic. This wine is already at its peak and will be for another 5 years.

Château Palmer 2004 : A little closed at first, the nose opens up on blackberry and cherry aromas. Very complex and elegant. It is smooth and mellow in the mouth. I love the balance and beautiful tannic structure. High quality finish, fine tannins, persistent  and complex aftertaste. Open it now and before 2025.

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