PRINCE OF MARGAUX
Air photo of Palmer and surroundings © ASP Editions
Château Palmer is one of the few remaining aristocrats among Bordeaux wines. Palmer has neither let it influence by present acrobatics in vinification, technical sidesteps and modern trends. This property has kept hard by the classic style – some would mean genuine Bordeaux style – where ripe fruit and ripe tannin compliment each other in the best possible way. Here, aromatic finesse and elegance is mixed in finest possible way with power and sappiness on the palate, sophisticated structure and exquisite balance. This is exactly what Bordeaux is famous for and something wine producers from all over the world try to incorporate in their wines. Even if Château Palmer is only classified as 3.Growth according to 1855-classification, it's far better than its present classification. Sublime and aristocratic wine!
Palmer is situated in Haut-Médoc on right side of the so-called "Route de Vin", half-way between Cantenac and Margaux communes, with only few kilometers away from Gironde river. It covers 55 ha of vines growing on mainly gravelly soil with quartz stones in different sizes. The composition of grapes varieties used is classic: 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet and 6% Petit Verdot. Average age of vines is 38 years.
Today, two wines are made at Palmer. Grand Vin which bears name of the property and Alter Ego (since 1998). Alter Ego isn't a typical second wine of Palmer, more like a blend of cuvees from different parcels of the vineyard, which don't have quality required for Grand Vin.
Harvest is done manually and both wines undergo in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Only through the end of malolactic fermentation, wine is transferred to oak barrels. It's not filtrated, only clarified with egg-whites. Palmer spends 20-21 months in 50-70% new barrels, while Alter Ego gets 17-18 months in 25-40% new barrels.
In April 1990 I participated in tasting of 18 vintages in Copenhagen, which took place at one of the best restaurants in Denmark, "Kong Hans". Charles Sichel represented Palmer at this tasting. We tasted following vintages: 1986-85-83-82-81-79-78-76-75-70-67-66-62-61-59(DK)-59-55-52. Unforgettable experience!! 1961 Palmer was otherworldy!
In 2007, during two Palmer tastings, one for Commanderie de Bordeaux and one for wine-sommeliers, I tasted vintages 2003, 2002, 1998, 1991, 1990, 1986, 1981 and 1970 among other wines.
In May 2014 another tasting of Margaux took place for members of Commanderie de Bordeaux. It was conducted by Chris Myers, Palmer's sales director and it offered following vintages: Alter Ego 2009-2005-2004, Palmer 2008-2006-2004-2001-1999-1996-1989-1985.
At private tasting on 15th October 2015 in Copenhagen, I tasted Alter Ego 2003 and 2005, plus Palmer 2005-2001-2000-1990-1988-1985-1979-1967.
Awesome picture taken by my friend Miguel Lecuona at Chateau Palmer on the 31st March 2015 - we all were thrilled with 2014 vintage there! Chris Myers did the talking, we tasted!
2016 Palmer (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted in April 2017. 47% M + 47% CS + 6% PV. This wine was rather tight, not that impressive as expected, a bit bland in appearance. Probably not the best day to taste it. My rating is maybe far too generous, but I just believe in positive evolution of this wine.
2015 Palmer (barrel sample) 96+p
Tasted in April 2016. Grand Vin was as always aristocratic with its refined and sophisticated touch, richness, intensity, structure and long finish. Fabulous future waits.
2014 Palmer (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted in March 2015. Big wine but still showing aristocratic touch, high acidity, strong structure, excellent depth, richness and long meaty finish.
2013 Palmer (barrel sample) 92-93p
Tasted in April 2014. Oaky, great acidity, on the light side, elegant and with very fine complexity and structure. Will it put on weight when in bottle?
2012 Palmer 95+p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. It showed great class and style with excellent aromatic nose of black cherries, richness, velvety palate, excellent structure, balance and very long finish. Fabulous wine for the vintage.
2011 Palmer 95+p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. This wine was aristocratic, powerful though refined with fabulous balance and fabulous finish. Stunning effort.
2010 Palmer 99p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine had incredibly scented nose and palate, black cherries and Varlhona chocolate everywhere, awesome complexity structure and length, fat fruit and tannin on the palate. Very sophisticated wine with both power and extreme elegance. Heavenly stuff.
2009 Palmer 97p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. It had very seductive aroma of dark cherries, great intensity and concentration, silky tannins and graceful finish. Very stylish and sophisticated wine with extremely well established combination of elegance and power. A wine of great charisma and excellent quality.
2008 Palmer 96p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. More of everything here compared with 2006. Sappy, riper fruit with a lot of sweetness. Complex, refined and long finish. Great intensity of dark cherries on the nose and palate. Stylish wine with great depth and structure. Petit Verdot was included in the blend and it shows – strong backbone. Great effort for the vintage and this wine will keep for a long time.
2007 Palmer 92p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. It expressed in its special own way seductive aroma of dark cherries, soft texture, silky tannins and soft finish. Very stylish and gracious wine, and therefore so typical for the commune. Now in bottle and it's fulfilled the promises when tasted from barrel. Splendid effort for the vintage.
2006 Palmer 94p
Tasted four times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. Tight and tannic wine, Cabernet Sauvignon shining. Rather powerful than elegant, splendid backbone, depth and complexity. Firm and long finish. Still not quite developed yet and I think this wine needs more than 10 years from now to be approachable. No Petit Verdot in this vintage for Palmer.
2005 Palmer 98p
Tasted four times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Palmer was as always a perfect example of beautiful elegance and finesse, the goodies Margaux commune is so famous of. This was a complete wine and a heartbreaker of rarely seen caliber. Decadently rich and multifacetted. Aristocratic and sophisticated wine with a really long life ahead. 20-30 years and maybe even longer.
2004 Palmer 95p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. Always one of my favorite Palmers. Extremely elegant and very aromatic wine with much finesse, silky texture and tannin. Fabulous complexity and depth, stunning balance. Long and sweet aftertaste. Aristocratic. Will have a long and great, great life.
2003 Palmer 92p
Tasted in April 2007. Deep red. It had really splendid nose of aromatic Mirabelle plums in the beginning and was fresh all over. Later, both nose and palate took on blackcurrants/blackcurrants drops. This was quite concentrated and powerful wine on the palate, showing splendid intensity of fruit, refinement and fine length, although not quite typical for the property. It finished with long and strong aftertaste. 12-18 years horizontally in the cellar.
2002 Palmer 94p
Tasted in April 2007. Darker color than in 2003 Palmer! It had an incredible depth on the nose with glorious intensity and refinement, and strong aroma of blackcurrants and raspberries. This wine was very rich, strong and sophisticated on the palate with formidable balance, finesse, length, structure and aristocratic touch all over the place. It's luxurious enjoyment now and it will be like that in the next 18-25 years. For sure, this is one of top wines in this vintage.
2001 Palmer 93p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Really fine and aromatic on the nose with red berries. Vivid and flavorful on the palate. Ripe fruit and tannin. Quite complex and with fine depth. Soft finish.
2000 Palmer 96p
Tasted in October 2015. Fabulous wine with stunning nose, richness on palate, awesome complexity, remarkable acidity and classy finish. Top effort for the vintage.
1999 Palmer 96p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. 48% CS, 46% M and 6% PV. Probably in top three in this vintage. This wine has always impressed me. Very aromatic dark berries with great intensity. More concentrated, riper and sweeter fruit than in 1996, tight, great finesse and elegance, aristocratic, stunning balance, fabulous complexity and depth. Incredibly stylish and classy. To enjoy in the next 20 years.
1998 Palmer 93+p
Tasted in April 2007. Black red. Classic Bordeaux style with strong tannins and concentrated fruit, which keep each other in "hand", so neither tannin nor fruit breaks out in solo performance. This wine's had little development and needs therefore time to show true face of Palmer. Palmer. Absolutely worth waiting for.
1996 Palmer 95p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. 55% CS, 40% M, 4% CF and 1% PV. Already on the nose it is obvious, that Cabernet Sauvignon was the winner in this vintage. The ripeness of CS in this vintage was better than Merlot's. Mint, leather and cigar box on large scale. This wine was beautifully constructed, refined and with concentrated shape, powerful and sappy. This is textbook Palmer – beautiful wine which easily can keep its excellent ingredients in additional 20 years.
1995 Palmer 92p
Tasted twice - last time in June 2012. Consistent notes. Deep red. Powerful nose of ripe blackcurrants and raspberries. On the palate it was chewy, well-constructed with fine balance and fine aftertaste. This was a bit lighter wine than usual for the property, but nevertheless a wine you really would enjoy without any complaints. This one should keep for additional 10-15 years.
1991 Palmer 90p
Tasted in September 2007. Deep red. Very aromatic on the nose with chocolate powder and prunes. Soft and round on the palate with ripe fruit. Super effort for this difficult vintage, thanks to neighboring Gironde river, which kept devastating black frost in April away from Palmer. Drinks very well now.
1990 Palmer 94p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2015. Not consistent notes. In 2007 it had a very developed color for the vintage - medium red. Aromatic with cherries, seemed very mature, well-balanced and very nice to drink. A very enjoyable Palmer, which should keep like that for 4-6 years more. I doubt this bottle came from the cellar of Palmer. In October 2015, I had a great bottle with deliciously ripe fruit, very aromatic and complex, great sweetness of the fruit and sophisticated touch on palate.
1989 Palmer 93p
Tasted in May 2014. Sweet fruit, a bit alcoholic and warm, quite aromatic, fine balance and complexity, long soft finish. This bottle didn't seem to be a perfect example of this vintage for Palmer.
1988 Palmer 91p
Tasted in October 2015. Pure style. Quite complex and refined, fine ripeness of fruit and tannin, but not 100% perfect. Anyway very good effort.
1986 Palmer 93p
Tasted in April 2007. Dark red. It showed superb nose of dark berries, tobacco and liquorice. Splendidly balanced with fine and long palate, plus lasting aftertaste. It did remind in some way of 1996, but 1986 showed less intensity and fewer nuances. Nevertheless, this wine was a stupendous effort for the property and the one to satisfy many wine souls in the next 10-12 years.
1985 Palmer 90p
Tasted in October 2015. Elegant and refined wine, fruity with very good complexity. Tasty and seductive with fruity and smooth finish.
1981 Palmer 88p
Tasted in September 2007. On the light side with spicy fruit. This wine started with somewhat strange flavors, which were not clean. I suspected this wine did suffer from a little oxidation/cork taste, but one hour later these odd flavors luckily disappeared. All in all a nice and round wine to be consumed in the next few years.
1979 Palmer 87p
Tasted in October 2015. Rather light, old style vinification, lacking ripeness of fruit and tannin.
1970 Palmer 97p
Tasted in April 2007. Still young color. It shows incredibly rich, sophisticated and intense on the nose. There were many fruit aromas here, wine appeared extremely well-balanced and with sheer elegance. In the palate, it was multidimensional and with such sophisticated touch, that you simply lost your breath. An aristocratic wine with extremely delightful style and high class, which easily holds 10 more years in the cellar, if stored properly as our bottle was.
1967 Palmer 84p.
Tasted in October 2015. Dusty, wetty flavours on the nose and on the palate, well past its prime.
1966 Palmer (low stand) 95p
Blind tasted in July 2008. The first thing strikes me is the beautiful aroma of truffles, chocolate and cherries. Very Merlot for sure! It's obvious, that this wine is Bordeaux, but which Bank? My first impression is Right Bank, somewhere in the 60's. But it wasn't Right Bank and my friend who offered this wine, leaded me to a Left Bank wine with some good percentage of Merlot. Château Margaux maybe, eh..... Nope, it's the neighbor, Château Palmer 1966! Very stylish, classy wine with striking elegance and finesse, exquisite balance and soft aftertaste. A thrill to drink.
1961 Palmer 99p
Tasted three times - last time in March 2006. Consistent notes. Deep ruby red color with brown edge. Lots of beatifully scented luscious fruit, silky tannin, incredible balance, sophisticated and refined. This a legendary wine, which hasn't changed significantly since I tasted it for the very first time in 1987. A true dignified aristocrat wine, who firmly has kept its mind-boggling quality during so many years. Simply amazing stuff!
1865 Palmer 100p
This is the oldest red Bordeaux wine I've ever tasted! And only prephylloxera wine I've ever tasted! It happened in June 1993 during tasting in Arcachon. This wine was recorked at the property in 1990. Very light red color but with simply magnificent and otherworldly aroma of cherries, aristocratic elegance and finesse. A real angelic treat from the past - I'll never forget this wine!!
2015 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 93p
Tasted in April 2016. had aromatic nose of black fruit, silky fruit and tannin, velvety texture, excellent acidity, great depth and length.
2014 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 92p
Tasted in March 2015. Spicy fruit, splendid acidity, meaty, splendid depth and fine length.
2013 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 88p
Tasted in April 2014. Fresh, very nice acidity and minerality, on the light side, soft fruit and tannin.
2012 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 91p
Tasted twice - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine, which represented 45% of whole production, displayed fine ripeness of fruit and tannin, good concentration, silky fruit and tannin. Well-constructed wine and fine effort for the vintage.
2011 Alter Ego 90-91p
Tasted twice - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. It showed some power, good quantities of cherry fruit and fat ripe tannin and long aftertaste.
2010 Alter Ego 93p
Tasted twice - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine displayed big concentration, fat and perfectly ripe black fruit and tannin, refined, well-structured and very long. Impressive stuff. 93p.
2009 Alter Ego 91p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. Compared with 2005, 2009 was a step up in terms of concentration and intensity. Compact and tannic, sappy, great structure and complexity, perfect ripe dark berries with catchy sweetness. Impressive stuff.
2008 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. Aromatic, subtle and elegant wine. Smooth aftertaste. Joyful and seductive. Now in bottle.
2007 Alter Ego 87p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. This wine provided very delicate, round and extremely charming attitude and was drinking nicely already. Will entertain while we wait for big vintages to mature.
2006 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. Powerful wine which is quite similar in style to 2004, but imho wasn't so aromatically scented as 2004.
2005 Alter Ego 90p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Aromatic wine with fine structure. Fatter and meatier than 2004, more tannic, deeper and longer on the palate. Splendid sweetness of fruit and persistent fruity aftertaste. Very, very adorable wine.
2004 Alter Ego 90p
Tasted twice - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes.Intense nose of black cherries and blackcurrants. This was a well-crafted wine with splendid balance, quite rich and with persistent finish. A real heartbreaker wine to enjoy in the next 10 years.
2003 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. This wine contains of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Aromatic red berries like raspberries, redcurrants and gooseberries, and fine balance on the palate. Graphite and tobacco leaves on the nose. This was a quite well-made wine, which in my opinion will mature rather quickly. It's drinkable already now.
2000 Alter Ego 92p
Tasted twice - last time in September 2007. Consistent notes. Coal black color, dense and deep. Literally speaking, it rolled over 2003 Alter Ego with strong nose of blackcurrants, vigor on the palate, big concentration of fruit and hugely long finish for this beauty. All the things vintage 2000 is famous for, you will find in this eminent wine. This wine will be pure enjoyment in the next 10-15 years.