Palmer 2010 1.5L RP98+/JS98

Chateau Palmer: The Art of Winemaking

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 an impressive three 100-point wines since 2015, Chateau 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." Palmer's unwavering commitment to consistency and exceptional quality makes it an absolute must-have for discerning collectors and connoisseurs.

Thomas Duroux

Duroux's visionary leadership has revolutionized Palmer's winemaking practices, positioning it at the forefront of Bordeaux. 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 Foeders. 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.

The Château’s History

Château Palmer’s rich and illustrious history has shaped the estate and formed it into what it is today – One of the best in all of Margaux. Originally part of the vast estate of Château d'Issan, the vineyards gained independence as Château de Gascq under the de Gascq family. It wasn't until the early 1800s, when the formidable Madame de Gascq sought a buyer, that Charles Palmer entered the scene. With a bold claim that the wines equaled those of Château Lafite, Charles Palmer acquired the estate and, in a customary fashion of the time, bestowed it with his name – Château Palmer.

Charles Palmer's tenure marked a significant expansion of the vineyard, tripling its size to 80 hectares of vines. The strategic placement of vines in the prime terroirs of Cantenac, Issan, and Margaux set the stage for Château Palmer's viticultural excellence.

Changing Hands and Stewardship

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.

The 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.

Alter Ego, 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.

Out-Performing It's Predecessor

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. As these vintages mature, we may witness a new generation of Palmer's "best-ever" bottles. Owning a bottle of Chateau Palmer presents a unique opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs alike to make a wise investment in wine or savor the wonders of a Super Second estate operating at its peak. This sensational value won’t be around forever so buy yours before its too late!

Written by: Craig Headding & Arabella Maislinger

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