Château Palmer comes out of the cellar and lands under London

The Black Book's General Manager Fabrizio Canino serving Chateau Palmer 2012 and Alter Ego 2017 to Paris Barghchi, Alexandra Price and Star Wine List's UK ambassador Ruth Spivey. Photos by: Nathalie Mohadjer.

The Black Book, the wine bar hidden under the pavement of London’s Soho, was heaving on the night of 24th November, to celebrate the re-release of Château Palmer’s 2012 vintage. The event was co-hosted by Star Wine List.

(Partner story with Chateau Palmer)

In 2010, the biodynamic ​​and holistic Margaux estate began holding back half of every vintage, to be released a decade later. The 2010 was then released in 2020, to great acclaim.

As he dispensed glasses of the 2012, Château Palmer export manager Chris Myers remarked that there had been lots of talk inside the chateau about what to call the programme. “Do we say ‘museum release’? ‘Re-release’?”

Eventually, they settled on ‘Ten Years On’ Release. The goal, Myers went on, was to present the market with aged wines that had been perfectly cellared. The wines released En-Primeur have a red prooftag and an all-red capsule, while the top of the capsule of the second release is blue, as is the prooftag seal. The Ten Years On release is also mentioned on the back label.

2012 Chateau Palmer. Photo by Nathalie Mohadjer.

The response to the latest release from the guests—sommeliers, members of the London wine trade, plus the team from co-hosts Star Wine List—was enthusiastic.

Exploring the taste of Château Palmer

“Chateau Palmer 2012 is living up to the vintage's tag as a 'classic, drinking claret', full of the cool, fresh, appealing character that makes these wines enduring favourites and cellar staples,” said Rupert Miller, the editor at Liv-ex.

The inventive finger food from Château Palmer’s young chef in residency Coriolan Pons also disappeared at top speed, with guests handed bowls of food created to match the wines perfectly, including cured line-caught sea bass with crème fraîche and yuzu dressing, and beef tartare seasoned with Sturia caviar and “smoke beetroot blood”, among other delights.

Chateau Palmer's chef Coriolan Pons and export director Chris Myers. Photo by Nathalie Mohadjer.

Everything was enjoyed according to Palmer’s Late Night Tasting Format, where sommeliers could arrive after their shift, accept a bowl of food and a glass, and just relax. A format that’s less traditional Bordelais would be hard to find.

Myers also poured the 2017 vintage of Alter Ego, the so-called “other self ” of Château Palmer, defined by the freshness of the fruit rather than by the depth of the structure.

Marie and Clive Wilfred; Matteo Lupi. Photo by Nathalie Mohadjer.

“The location was great and also that evening starting time, allowing somms to join after service. Great idea,” said Lukasz Kuszela, Assistant Head Sommelier at Les 110 de Taillevent who joined after the evening shift. “Good choice of wines and vintages to show the château style. The 2012 is polished and starting to be ready to drink. I also liked the story about the white wine.“

A look at the rare Château Palmer white

The rare Vin Blanc de Palmer 2020 was also poured, a blend of Muscadelle, Sauvignon Gris and the very rare white grape Loset. This grape isn’t allowed in Bordeaux appellations, although it was planted in Sauternes in the 18th century. Therefore Vin Blanc de Palmer is currently classified as a Vin de France.

2020 Vin Blanc de Palmer. Photo by Nathalie Mohadjer.

“There are only 3,000 bottles produced annually of the Blanc,” said Myers, of which barely 2,000 go to selected restaurants worldwide.

Palmer made white wine up until the end of the 1930s but stopped after war broke out. Later, the wine was forgotten. Then in the late 1990s, two bottles from the 1925 vintage were found in the cellar, sparking the desire to make it once again. The team re-planted the varieties and the first new white Palmer was released in 2007.

The event was held at Black Book in Soho, London. The tiny underground space, founded by sommeliers Xavier Rousset MS and Gearoid Devaney MS, has quickly become a favourite of London’s sommelier community, who often congregate there after their shifts have ended.

"A great event, less formal and probably less technical in comparison to a morning tasting but definitely more memorable. Also, more personal and intimate, especially being able to taste these wines together with the food. The white wine was my wine of the night!” said Trivet’s Head Sommelier Philipp Reinstaller.

From left, Noble Rot's Bronte Agostino and Andrew Dhesi; Megan Kirkwood; Star Wine List's Krister Bengtsson and Chateau Palmer's Chris Myers. Photo by Nathalie Mohadjer

“It was such a wonderful night. It was so much fun including great music and service!” said Bronte Agostino, sommelier at Noble Rot Lambs Conduit. “And of course the wines. So special to try the white Palmer — it was so good and vibrant!"

The event had such an enthusiastic response that the teams from Château Palmer and Star Wine List have decided to include more junior sommeliers on the invitation list next year, to give up-and-coming professionals the chance to taste such notable and rare wines.

The 2012 Chateau Palmer Ten Years On was released officially at the end of September, through 30 negociants. Find it through wine merchants or search top wine lists in more than 25 countries for Chateau Palmer with Star Wine List Premium.

Published 03-December-2022
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