Château Palmer’s inimitable wines—combining power and complexity with extraordinary elegance and beguiling velvet texture—are testaments to all that sets this estate apart among Bordeaux’s famed classified growths.
A veritable mosaic of soils, a unique vineyard planting of equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon subtly enriched with Petit Verdot, and innovative farming techniques that respect nature’s exquisite equilibrium, make these wines transcendent expressions of the Margaux appellation.
Among the mythic wines of the Margaux Appellation, Château Palmer has always stood apart, as instantly recognisable for its midnight blue label as for its inimitable bouquet, an uncommon blend of power and delicacy. It’s a strength of character drawn from a fabled terroir, and from an ensemble of vibrant personalities who have forged the estate’s identity through history.
Emerging in the 17th century, the estate only became Château Palmer in 1814, when it was acquired by Charles Palmer, a dashing British Major General who instilled his namesake with enough éclat and glamour to see it become renowned throughout London’s aristocratic circles. In 1853, the Pereire brothers, among the preeminent financiers of Napoleon III’s France, brought the rigour and vision needed for Château Palmer to be ranked among the most prestigious classified growths of the 1855 classification. In 1938, a consortium of four leading families in the Bordeaux wine trade acquired the estate, heralding an era of momentous vintages and deep-rooted stability – indeed, Palmer is still owned by the descendants of two of these families.
Today, the men and women leading Château Palmer into the 21st century are rhyming tradition with innovation in their passionate pursuit to capture the subtleties of one of the world’s most legendary terroirs. Palmer’s eminently complex wines, combining aromatic richness and extraordinary elegance with a beguiling velvet texture and remarkable ageing potential, are reflections of those spirited efforts and all that distinguishes this 66 ha estate. A veritable mosaic of soils, a unique vineyard planting of equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon subtly enriched with Petit Verdot, and pioneering farming techniques that respect nature’s exquisite equilibrium, together make these wines transcendent expressions of the Margaux appellation.
In 2004, the shareholders placed Thomas Duroux, a thirty-four-year-old agronomist and oenologist, at the head of Château Palmer. In 2007, Sabrina Pernet was named the château’s technical director.
The estate has been certified organic and biodynamic agriculture (Demeter certification) since the 2018 vintage.
Château Palmer and Alter Ego – its “other self ” – are two distinct expressions of a single terroir, two interpretations of the same musical score. If the first is an orchestral symphony composed from Gironde gravels, the second is a jazz riff emerging from the same wondrous geology. One is a classical work, whose import is revealed by time and history’s regard; the other is a contemporary work in constant evolution, easily enjoyed in its youth. The gilded label of Alter Ego is also a reflection, a kind of photo negative, of Palmer’s midnight blue label, with the majestic château as the central motif in one and the other.
Château Palmer has always transcended fashion and trends, paying heed to but one voice, that of its terroir. Finesse and elegance from the gravels of Margaux; a silken texture, all softness and refinement; the nobility of leather, the caress of velvet, these are the calling cards of Palmer. A wine born of an original combination of grape varieties (equal measures of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, subtly enriched with Petit Verdot), it plunges us into a bouquet of flowers, fruit and spice, wrapped in a fleshy and generous structure. But all of this requires patience: for long barrel ageing – more than 20 months – is essential to fully instil the wine with the expression of its soil. Slowly, it develops the ample flesh and body needed to mature and grow into its robe of tannins.
Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage, fruit of a desire to create a fresh translation of the Château Palmer terroir by approaching fruit selection and blending in new ways, to create a wine at once immediately expressive, yet retaining the elegance, the velvety tannins, and that elusive, inimitable quality which characterizes every bottle of Palmer. Spontaneous, generous, round, full of juicy fruit, Alter Ego is both intense and delicate, rich and supple. With merlot often predominant in the blend, it’s a highly seductive wine, ready to be appreciated in the first years after bottling. Aged 20 months in barrels – with a moderate percentage of new oak (around 25 to 40%) to preserve the wine’s rich fruitiness and aromatics – it can also be cellared for a season or more, to reveal still further subtleties of character.