2020 Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Bottle (750ml) DR99/AG98/RP97
2010 Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Magnum (1.5L) RP98+/DR98/JS98
2009 Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Bottle (750ml) JD99/RP98
2015 Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Magnum (1.5L) JS100

Chateau Palmer: The Art of Winemaking

Château Palmer, a Third Growth estate in the heart of the Margaux appellation, has consistently proven itself to be a standout Bordeaux producer, crafting wines that rival the famed First Growths of the region. The estate's consistent performance and high praise from critics have earned Château Palmer a reputation that far surpasses its initial standing on the Left Bank.

Château Palmer History

Originally part of the vast estate of Château d'Issan, the vineyards gained independence as Château de Gascq under the de Gascq family. The estate’s legacy began in 1816 when Englishman General Charles Palmer first acquired the château. While the property changed hands over the centuries, its renown grew and the estate achieved Third Growth status in the 1855 Classification. The château’s renown reached new levels with the iconic 1961 vintage, which showcased Château Palmer's wines in a particularly impressive light. This significant milestone established Palmer as a serious contender, producing wines of a quality comparable to those of the First Growth estates.

In 1843, Château Palmer witnessed a change in ownership as the Pereire family took the reins. Their substantial investments modernized the estate, giving rise to the picturesque château with its four turret-shaped towers and an outdoor village.

The 20th century saw Château Palmer transition through various hands. In 1938, a consortium of four families, including the Ginestet, Miailhe, Mahler-Besse, and Sichel families, jointly purchased the estate. The 1950s saw Jean Bouteiller managing Château Palmer, followed by a transformative shift in 2004 with the appointment of agronomist and oenologist Thomas Duroux. Under Duroux's leadership, Château Palmer entered a golden era, characterized by a commitment to continuous improvement and excellence.

Super Second: Château Palmer

Château Palmer is among a select group of estates known as "Super Seconds," a title bestowed upon properties that consistently perform above their official 1855 classification.  Liv-Ex, an international wine trade platform that ranks Bordeaux producers biennially based on the same standards used in 1855, places Château Palmer at the top of the Second Growth category, above other reputable châteaux such as Leoville-Las Cases and Cos d’Estournel. As a Third Growth, Château Palmer's status as a front-runner in this elite category is particularly impressive, surpassing the expectations set by its official ranking and overshadowing many of its Second Growth counterparts.

Château Palmer Winemaker

Under the guidance of Thomas Duroux, former winemaker of Tuscany’s famed Ornellaia, Château Palmer continues to innovate and evolve. With a commitment to biodynamic practices and a focus on continuous improvement, the estate is well-positioned to maintain its status as a leading producer in the Margaux appellation for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to Bordeaux's third-classified growths, none can rival the magnificence of Chateau Palmer. Under the guidance of current wine director Thomas Duroux since 2004, Palmer has consistently displayed unparalleled excellence. Boasting three 100-point wines since 2015, Château Palmer has truly hit its stride under Duroux's meticulous watch. While officially classified as a third growth, this estate has transcended its 1855 classification, earning the distinction of a "Super Second."

Departing from tradition, Duroux has introduced groundbreaking changes that have revolutionalized the barreling and aging process. While Bordeaux wines are traditionally aged in 225-liter barrels, Chateau Palmer takes a different path. After spending their initial year in 225-liter barrels, the wines are then transferred to 3000-liter fuders. This unconventional approach has yielded impressive results for Chateau Palmer.

In 2010, Duroux spearheaded a significant cellar renovation, upgrading the pumping system to a gravity-fed one, modernizing sorting and bottling lines, and establishing a dedicated tasting room. The cellar now boasts 42 temperature-controlled vats, specifically designed to facilitate precise, parcel-by-parcel vinification. Duroux's leadership in the cellar has directly contributed to the overall improvements at Chateau Palmer.

Duroux's impact extends beyond the cellar walls. He has played a crucial role in swiftly converting Palmer's vineyards to 100% biodynamic farming. Starting with a single hectare in 2008, the entire vineyard transitioned to biodynamic practices by 2014, ultimately receiving certification in 2017. Duroux combines modern technology with biodynamic principles, utilizing infrared cameras since the 2009 harvest to determine the optimal moment for grape picking. Over the past two decades, Duroux has led a revolutionary transformation, elevating Chateau Palmer into one of Bordeaux's supreme estates.

 

Château Palmer Vineyards

One of the distinguishing features of Chateau Palmer lies in the composition of its Grand Vin. A remarkable blend of 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot, an unconventional combination for a left bank Bordeaux, imparts Palmer's distinct elegance.

Palmer's vineyards, situated on a diverse range of soil variations encompassing 18 different gravel, clay, and sand types scattered across 106 parcels, contribute to the estate's uniqueness. With an average vine age of 38 years and some parcels reaching up to 70 years old, the vineyards hold a rich history. Notably, one outstanding parcel, located just behind the Chateau, was not part of the estate during the 1855 classification. Leaving room for speculation as to whether this parcel would have enhanced the Chateau's standing back then. Regardless, Chateau Palmer consistently produces some of Bordeaux's most exceptional wines.

Château Palmer Wines

One of the most notable aspects of Château Palmer's wines is the equal proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend, a rarity in the Cabernet-dominant Left Bank. The estate's well-draining gravel and moisture-retaining clay soils provide ideal conditions for both varieties to flourish, resulting in wines that showcase a delicate balance between the aromatic complexities each grape contributes to the final product. The inclusion of a small amount of inky Petit Verdot each year further enhances the wines' full-bodied structure and vibrant intensity, creating powerful yet supple styles that are highly prized.

Château Palmer "Alter Ego" Second Wine

Alter Ego, a 2nd wine of Château Palmer introduced with the 1998 vintage after the acquisition of 8 hectares of vineyards, emerged as a distinctive expression of Château Palmer's terroir. Unlike traditional second wines, Alter Ego is not viewed as such by Château Palmer. Instead, it is celebrated as an independent and unique creation, originating from different plots and boasting a distinct blend. The introduction of Alter Ego marked a departure from traditional classifications, embracing the philosophy that each wine should be valued on its own merit.

Château Palmer Vintages

Having a long-standing presence in the Medoc region, Chateau Palmer continues to operate at an exceptional level. While past vintages like 1928, 1961, 1983, and 1989 are celebrated as the estate's greatest, since 2014, Palmer's flagship wines consistently achieve scores of 97 points or higher.

Château Palmer 2000: A legendary vintage, known by many as one of the last great classic vintages on the Left Bank. 2000 Palmer is praised by Decanter as "opulent, exotic, succulent and crowd-pleasing...There is a brambly texture to the fruit with touches of iron filings and cigar box along with immensely ripe tannins and fresh acidity that combine to produce a truly great Palmer with clear appellation signature and a long life expectancy. There’s no doubt at all that this is going to keep powering on for decades ahead"

Château Palmer 2005: Remarkable and considered one of the greatest vintages on the Left Bank. Robert Parker exulted the 2005 Palmer as "one of the great efforts of this superlative vintage...surprisingly opulent (it has a big percentage of Merlot), long, multi-dimensional and textured. This wonderfully pure, stunning wine once again performs as a first-growth. It should drink well for the next 20-25 years."

Château Palmer 2010: A powerful year, lending richness to wines in the form of ripe, dark fruit. Robert Parker praised this wine as "one of the superstars of the vintage...[with] a sensational black/purple color and a gorgeous nose of camphor, barbecue smoke, blackberry and cassis...This is a sensationally rich, full-throttle Palmer that could well end up being one of the all-time great wines made at this estate. It needs a good 7-10 years of cellaring and should keep for 50 or more years."

Château Palmer 2020: Despite the challenging year, Bordeaux experienced a warm growing season that retained its freshness, resulting in healthy fruit and high-quality cuvées.  Wine critics agree on the exceptional quality of these wines, with Decanter awarding the 2020 Château Palmer an impressive 99 points. The publication praised the wine's "glorious finesse, depth, density and length," further stating Château Palmer is “an amazing wine that deserves to be a first growth."

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