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 been kept hard by the classic style – some would mean true Bordeaux style – where ripe fruit and ripe tannin complement each other in the best possible way. Here, aromatic finesse and elegance are mixed in the 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 into their wines. Even if Château Palmer is only classified as 3. Growth, according to the 1855 classification, it's far better than its present classification. Sublime and aristocratic wine!
Palmer is situated in Haut-Médoc on the right side of the so-called "Route de Vin," halfway between Cantenac and Margaux communes, only a few kilometers from Gironde river. It covers 55 ha of vines growing on mainly gravelly soil with quartz stones in different sizes. The composition of the grapes varieties is classic: 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet, and 6% Petit Verdot. The average age of vines is 38 years.
Today, two wines are made at Palmer. Grand Vin bears the 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 need to have the quality required for Grand Vin.
Harvest is done manually, and both wines undergo temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. The wine is transferred to oak barrels only at the end of malolactic fermentation. 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 the 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 the 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 Margaux tasting took place for Commanderie de Bordeaux members. It was conducted by Chris Myers, Palmer's sales director, offering the following vintages: Alter Ego 2009-2005-2004, Palmer 2008-2006-2004-2001-1999-1996-1989-1985.
During the 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 of March 2015 - we all were thrilled with the 2014 vintage! Chris Myers did the talking, we tasted the wines!
2022 Palmer (barrel sample) 98p
Tasted in April 2023. 45% Merlot, 51% C. Sauvignon and 4% P. Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 22 hl/ha. Harvest lasted nearly a month, and the final assemblage was already concluded in November. This wine was a textbook Palmer in a great vintage. Fresh, violets and black fruit, pencil, tobacco leaves, concentrated, precise and vibrant, splendid midpalate, striking complexity, and great length. Sophisticated touch. Outstanding effort.
2021 Palmer (barrel sample) 95-96p
Tasted in April 2022. 56% Merlot, 41% C. Sauvignon and 3% P. Verdot. 13.5% alcohol. Fresh, juicy, violets and red fruit, focused and vibrant, splendid midpalate, striking complexity, and length. Sophisticated touch. Superb effort.
2020 Palmer 98+p
Tasted in November 2021. 48% C.Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Overall, it was a stunning effort in 2019. A more powerful presence, but still keeping its aristocracy things intact, like f.i. elegance, finesse, and sophisticated touch. Intense and fragrant nose of red and dark berries, a well-defined midpalate, and an excellent finish.
2019 Palmer 98+p
Tasted in November 2021. 53% C.Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Pure blackcurrant and cherry candy, sophisticated, refined, sheer elegance and finesse. Aristocratic and totally and stunningly impressive.
2018 Palmer (barrel sample) 97+p
Tasted in April 2019. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 40% and 7% Petit Verdot. Thomas Duroux, Palmer's technical manager, explained that the vineyard had been very sensitive to mildew in 2018 and lost a lot of potential production due to biofarming. Therefore, yield per ha landed at a tiny 11 hl, and no Alter Ego was produced. However, the remaining grapes did produce great and incredibly stylish wine, concentrated and refined, with big and refreshing tannin. Fabulous effort for the vintage.
2017 Palmer 96p
Tasted three times - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. 54% Merlot + 42% Cabernet Sauvignon + 4% Petit Verdot. This wine showed freshness, pure elegance, excellent acidity, and structure. Sophisticated on the palate with a meaty finish. Top, top quality.
2016 Palmer (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2017. Not consistent notes. 47% M + 47% CS + 6% PV. This wine was rather tight, not that impressive as expected, a bit bland in appearance. I felt a little bit disappointed over the barrel sample of this wine back in April this year but half a year later, it showed significantly better. More intensity and length. More complexity too.
2015 Palmer 96+p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2018. Consistent notes. Grand Vin was as always aristocratic with its refined and sophisticated touch, richness, intensity, structure, and long finish. A fabulous future awaits.
2014 Palmer 96p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. Palmer - 45% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Big and fleshy wine with great richness, high acidity, strong backbone, great depth, and a long, long finish. At the same time, it was a powerful and elegant wine with a sophisticated touch. Among top wines in this vintage.
2013 Palmer (barrel sample) 92-93p
Tasted in April 2014. Oaky, great acidity, on the light side, elegant, and with pleasing complexity and structure. Will it put on weight when in the bottle?
2012 Palmer 95+p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. It showed great class and style with an excellent aromatic nose of black cherries, richness, velvety palate, perfect structure, balance, and a very long finish. A 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 great balance and a fabulous finish. Stunning effort.
2010 Palmer 99p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine had an incredibly scented nose and palate, black cherries and Valrhona chocolate everywhere, extraordinary complexity, structure and length, fat fruit, and tannin on the palate. A 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 quite a seductive aroma of dark cherries, great intensity, concentration, silky tannins, and an elegant finish. A very stylish and sophisticated wine with an 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 with a 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, which shows a strong backbone. Great effort for the vintage, and this wine will last a long time.
2007 Palmer 92p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. It expressed in its special way the 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 the bottle and it's fulfilled the promises when tasted from the 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. It still needs to be fully developed, and this wine needs more than ten 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 for. This was a complete wine and a heartbreaker of rarely seen caliber. Decadently rich and multifaceted. An aristocratic and sophisticated wine with a long life ahead. 20-30 years and maybe even longer.
2004 Palmer 95p
Tasted three times - last time in May 2014. Consistent notes. Always been one of my favorite Palmers. An exquisite 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 a 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 a splendid intensity of fruit, refinement, and fine length, although not quite typical for the property. It finished with a long and intense 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 a strong aroma of blackcurrants and raspberries. This wine was vibrant, strong, and sophisticated on the palate, with formidable balance, finesse, length, structure, and aristocratic touch all over the place. It's luxurious enjoyment and will be like that in 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. Delicate and aromatic on the nose with red berries. Vivid and flavorful on the palate. Ripe fruit and tannin. Quite complex and with a fine depth. Soft finish.
2000 Palmer 96p
Tasted in October 2015. Fabulous wine with a stunning nose, richness on the palate, awesome complexity, remarkable acidity, and a 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 the 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, exquisite 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 solid tannins and concentrated fruit keep each other in "hand," so neither tannin nor fruit breaks out in a solo performance. This wine had little development and needs, therefore time to show the true face of Palmer. Palmer. I think it's 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 evident that Cabernet Sauvignon was the winner in this vintage. The ripeness of CS in this vintage was better than Merlot. Mint, leather, and cigar box on a large scale. This wine was beautifully constructed and refined, with a concentrated, powerful, and sappy shape. This is textbook Palmer – beautiful wine that easily can keep its excellent ingredients for an additional 20 years.
1995 Palmer 92p
Tasted twice - last time in June 2012. Consistent notes. Deep red. Powerful nose of ripe blackcurrants and raspberries. The palate was chewy and well-constructed, with delicate balance and a pleasing aftertaste. This was a bit lighter wine than usual for the property, but 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. Thanks to the neighboring Gironde river, which kept devastating black frost in April away from Palmer, a super effort for this difficult vintage. 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 mature, well-balanced, and very pleasant to drink. A delightful Palmer should be like that for 4-6 years. 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, the great sweetness of the fruit and sophisticated touch on the palate.
1989 Palmer 93p
Tasted in May 2014. Sweet fruit, a bit alcoholic and warm, quite aromatic, delicate balance and complexity, long soft finish. This bottle wasn't a perfect example of this vintage for Palmer.
1988 Palmer 91p
Tasted in October 2015. Pure style. Quite complex and refined, with 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 a superb nose of dark berries, tobacco, and licorice. It was splendidly balanced with a delicate and long palate, plus a lasting aftertaste. It did remind in some way of 1996, but 1986 showed less intensity and fewer nuances. Nevertheless, this wine was a spectacular 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. An elegant and refined wine, fruity with very good complexity. Tasty and seductive with a 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 bit of oxidation/cork taste, but one hour later, these odd flavors luckily disappeared. All in all a lovely and round wine to be consumed in the next few years.
1979 Palmer 87p
Tasted in October 2015. Relatively light, old-style vinification, lacking ripeness of fruit and tannin.
1970 Palmer 97p
Tasted in April 2007. Still young color. It was vibrant, sophisticated, and intense on the nose. There were many fruit aromas here, and the wine appeared extremely well-balanced and with sheer elegance. The palate was multidimensional and with such sophisticated touch that you lost your breath. An aristocratic wine with extremely delightful style and high class, which easily holds ten more years in the cellar if appropriately stored as our bottle was.
1967 Palmer 84p.
Tasted in October 2015. Dusty, wet flavors on the nose and the palate, well past its prime.
1966 Palmer (low stand) 95p
Blind tasted in July 2008. The first thing that struck me was the beautiful aroma of truffles, chocolate, and cherries. Very Merlot, for sure! It's evident that this wine is Bordeaux, but which Bank? My first impression is Right Bank, somewhere in the '60s. But it wasn't Right Bank, and my friend who offered this wine led me to a Left Bank wine with a good percentage of Merlot. Château Margaux maybe, eh..... Nope, it's the neighbor, Château Palmer! A very stylish, classy wine with striking elegance and finesse, exquisite balance, and a soft aftertaste. A thrill to drink.
1961 Palmer 99p
Tasted three times - last time in March 2006. Consistent notes. Deep ruby red color with a brown edge. Lots of beautifully scented luscious fruit, silky tannin, incredible balance, sophisticated and refined. This is a legendary wine that has mostly stayed the same since I tasted it for the first time in 1987! It is an authentic dignified aristocratic wine that has kept its mind-boggling quality for so many years. Simply amazing stuff!
1865 Palmer 100p
This is the oldest red Bordeaux wine I've ever tasted! And only pre-phylloxera wine I've ever tasted! It happened in June 1993 during the tasting in Arcachon. This wine was recorked at the property in 1990. Very light red color but with a simply magnificent and otherworldly aroma of cherries, aristocratic elegance, and finesse. A real angelic treat from the past - I'll never forget this wine!!
2022 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 94p
Tasted in April 2023. 43% C. Sauvignon, 51% Merlot and 6% P. Verdot. 14.2% alcohol. Yield 22 hl/ha. Significantly more Merlot in the blend in 2022. This wine had a refreshing attitude with aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, tobacco leaves, polished tannin, delicate mid-palate, and splendid complexity. Vibrant and layered. Persistent finish. Superb stuff.
2021 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 93p
Tasted in April 2022. 60% C. Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 8% P. Verdot. 13% alcohol. Yield 22 hl/ha. This wine had a refreshing attitude with aromatic flowers on the nose (violets and iris), tobacco and redcurrants, velvety tannin, delicate mid-palate, and splendid complexity. Elegant with finesse and persistent finish. Splendid effort for the vintage!
2019 Alter Ego 93p
Tasted in November 2021. 51% Merlot, 40% C. Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. This wine had an aromatic nose of cherries, silky fruit, and tannin, a polished palate with excellent complexity, and great length. Superb effort.
2018 Alter Ego 'wasn't produced because of several outbreaks of mildew.
2017 Alter Ego 92p
Tasted three times - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. 53% Merlot + 41% Cabernet Sauvignon + 6% Petit Verdot. It was salty and mineral, lighter than usual, round and charming. This was in October 2018, when still in the barrel. When tasted three years later, this wine got more weight, silkiness, fine acidity, and elegance.
2016 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 93p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 40% Merlot + 48% C.Sauvignon + 12% Petit Verdot. Fine acidity, perfectly ripe fruit, delicate sweetness, and complexity, well-structured and with a long finish. Excellent effort.
2015 Alter Ego 93p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2018. Consistent notes. This wine had an aromatic nose of black fruit, silky fruit, and tannin, a velvety texture, excellent acidity, and great depth and length.
2014 Alter Ego 92p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 52% Merlot + 35% C.Sauvignon + 13% P.Verdot. Strong, powerful, obvious acidity shows a relaxed Bordeaux style. Great stuff.
2013 Alter Ego (barrel sample) 88p
Tasted in April 2014. Fresh, lovely 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, representing 45% of the 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, fat ripe tannin, and a long aftertaste.
2010 Alter Ego 93p
Tasted twice - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine displayed great concentration, fat, 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 concentration and intensity. Compact and tannic, sappy, great structure and complexity, perfect ripe dark berries, catchy sweetness. Impressive stuff.
2008 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. An aromatic, subtle, and elegant wine. Smooth aftertaste. Joyful and seductive. Now in the bottle.
2007 Alter Ego 87p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. This wine provided a delicate, round, and extremely charming attitude, and was drinking nicely already. It will entertain well while we wait for big vintages to mature.
2006 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2010. Consistent notes. A 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. An aromatic wine with a fine structure. Fatter and meatier than in 2004, more tannic, deeper, and longer on the palate. A 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 superb balance, and a rich and persistent finish. A real heartbreaker wine to enjoy in the next ten years.
2003 Alter Ego 89p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. This wine contains 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Aromatic red berries like raspberries, redcurrants, and gooseberries, and delicate balance on the palate. Graphite and tobacco leaf on the nose. This was a well-made wine, which I believe 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. It rolled over 2003 Alter Ego with an intense nose of blackcurrants, vigor on the palate, a significant concentration of fruit, and a hugely long finish for this beauty. All the things vintage 2000 is famous for, you will find in this renowned wine. This wine will be pure enjoyment in the next 10-15 years.