|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||8-10,000 cases|
|Classification||Troisiemes Crus (Third-Growths)|
|Second Wine||Alter Ego de Palmer|
|Interesting Fact||It was for Chateau Palmer’s fabulous 1961 vintage that the term ‘Super Second’ was coined.|
This is an estate which suffered due to a lack of investment just prior to the 1855 Classification and which critics have said would most likely have been rated as a Second-Growth chateau had its potential been properly exploited in these years. Nevertheless, Chateau Palmer has done everything to show its true worth since and has regularly punched above its weight- especially since the arrival of Thomas Duroux in 2004. The wine here has often superseded the quality of that produced at neighbouring First-Growth Chateau Margaux during his tenure and even beforehand.
The chateau has a fantastic heritage, having been very popular with Victorian London high society thanks to Colonel Palmer’s connections to the British royal family. Records show that ‘Palmer’s Claret’ even regularly graced the King’s table! It is this status as heritage claret which the estate management celebrated in 2004 with the release of a boutique cuvee label, ‘Historical XIX Century’. This wine, a nostalgic blend incorporating 15% Syrah grapes from the Rhone, and of which only 100 cases have been produced in each vintage, is now a must-have for dedicated wine collectors- especially the divine first vintage, 2004.
Chateau Palmer is also forward-thinking when it comes to their product, recently employing optical sorting techniques and other technological advances such as the ProofTag system in a stand against counterfeiting. For 2008 and 2009, spectacular wines have been produced that have garnered 94 and 97 RPJ points respectively, with the latter named by Robert Parker at aHong Kong tasting in 2011 as part of his ‘Magical 20’- wines that are of ‘first-growth quality’ but are ‘nonetheless undervalued and are smart acquisitions’. Thanks to the introduction of optical sorting, the 2011 vintage has been produced from the lowest yield since that legendary 1961, with only the very best grapes making the cut. Thus it is expected to be a wine, not only of fearsomely great quality, but also of a limited release size that should ensure a high level of demand and guaranteed growth.
The 2005 and 2009 are among the top-rated vintages ever to emerge from Chateau Palmer, garnering 97 RPJ points each. Could the 2011 top even them? The dry, hot weather favoured properties in the Margaux appellation and in barrel tastings, Palmer 2011 has earned a initial critic range of 92-94+ points. Robert Parker called it “remarkably velvety and sweet. This opaque purple-colored, dense, concentrated, full-bodied wine will need time to totally form its personality... a big, boisterous, concentrated wine that should age for 25-30 or more years.” This rating range sits at most 2 points beneath neighbouring First-Growth Chateau Margaux, itself a candidate for best in vintage and with the Super-Second’s asking price less than 40% of that of the First Growth but exhibiting a similar character, Chateau Palmer 2011 is an arresting option.
Colonel Charles Palmer, the estate’s namesake, was a military man who arrived in Bordeaux with the Duke of Wellington’s army. He purchased it from recently-widowed Marie le Gasq in a chance meeting, though he shortly returned to London, hiring a manager in his stead. Palmer added significant tracts of land to the estate and his high social standing and friendship with the Prince Regent ensured Chateau Palmer became popular with London high society early on. A sale followed to the Pereires, whose ownership spanned difficult years including the phylloxera epidemic, the Depression and WWI. In 1938, a consortium of wine merchant families bought shares in the estate and under their control it truly realised its potential. In numerous years, it outshone neighbouring First-Growth Chateau Margaux and the 1961 vintage, now considered one of the greatest ever Bordeaux wines, precipitated the coining of the term ‘Super-Second’ (despite Palmer technically being a Third-Growth). By the 1980s, the chateau was owned by the descendants of two of the original families - Sichel and Mahler - an arrangement that continues today. In 2004, Thomas Duroux took the helm as estate manager and brought even more glory to Chateau Palmer- producing some of the finest vintages ever.
Palmer Price Analysis
Chateau Palmer Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Palmer
The 2010 Palmer is one of the superstars of the vintage, a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, which is just slightly different than what I indicated two years ago. The alcohol level hit 14.5%, and the wine comes across like a more stacked-and-packed version of their 2000. It is tannic and backward, but has a sensational black/purple color and a gorgeous nose of camphor, barbecue smoke, blackberry and cassis. Full-bodied, with oodles of glycerin but a relatively healthy pH, this wine has a precision and freshness that belie its lofty alcohol and extravagant concentration. This is a sensationally rich, full-throttle Palmer that could well end up being one of the all-time great wines made at this estate. It needs a good 7-10 years of cellaring and should keep for 50 or more years. There's no question that Thomas Duroux and the staff at Palmer are producing wines of first-growth quality, and have been for nearly a decade.
This spectacular offering should continue to improve, and may merit an even higher score after additional aging. Stunningly rich and powerful, the dark purple-tinged 2005 Palmer is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot. Aromas of incense, burning embers, black currants, plums, licorice, and flowers are followed by a full-bodied Margaux with more weight and power even than its nearby first-growth rival, Chateau Margaux. The abundant acidity and tannins are beautifully coated by the wine’s exceptional fruit extract and overall harmony and richness. It is so concentrated that one is hard pressed to find even a hint of new oak. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2045+
One of the all-time great Palmers (along with the 1961, 1966, 1970, 1989, 2000 and 2005), the 2009 Palmer is a blend of 52% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and a whopping 7% Petit Verdot that came in at close to 14% natural alcohol. An opaque blue/black color suggests a wine with thrilling levels of concentration and intensity, and That's exactly what a taster gets. Subtle smoke, incense and Asian spice (soy?) notes interwoven with graphite, blueberry, blackberry and cassis characteristics lead to a full-bodied, phenomenally concentrated, viscous, opulent wine with plenty of sweet tannin. This sensational Palmer reveals even more floral notes than vintages such as 2005 and 2000. It should drink well for 50 years.
The opaque blue/purple-colored 2011 Palmer reveals a stunning bouquet of licorice, truffles, camphor, spring flowers, black raspberries and black currants. One of the superstars of the vintage, this brilliant 2011 possesses superb concentration and purity, medium to full body, and remarkable length of close to a minute. A tour de force in winemaking, the Palmer team merits accolades for achieving this level of quality in a more challenging vintage than either 2009 or 2010. The “wine of the vintage” in Margaux, tiny yields of 20 hectoliters per hectare, a final blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and a severe selection (only 55% of the production made it into Palmer) are the reasons for this success.
Winemaker Thomas Duroux continues to fine tune this already brilliant estate, producing first-growth quality wines year after year.
One of the sexiest wines for drinking now and over the next 10-15 years is undoubtedly the 2000 Palmer. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, the wine has an almost exotic floral nose, soft, undulating tannins, and tremendous opulence and flesh, with a full-bodied mouthfeel, silky tannins, and loads of floral notes intermixed with blue and black fruits as well as hints of smoke and incense in its complex aromatics. This wine is drinking beautifully and should continue to do so for up to two more decades.
The 1999 is the greatest Palmer made since 1961, 1966, 1970, 1983, and 1989. It is one of the superstars of the vintage. The wine is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. It boasts a staggering bouquet of violets and other spring flowers intermixed with licorice, black currants, and subtle wood. Only 50% of the production made it into the grand vin. This is a multidimensional, compelling effort with both power and elegance, it offers sweet tannin along with flavors that caress the palate, and a 45-second finish. This is terrific stuff! Anticipated maturity: 2004-2025.
One of the superstars of the vintage, Palmer's 1989 retains a dark plum/purple color with some pink and a hint of amber creeping in at the rim. A big nose of charcoal, white flowers (acacia?), licorice, plums, and black currants comes from the glass of this elegant, medium to full-bodied, very concentrated, seamlessly made wine. Gorgeous and seemingly fully mature yet brilliantly balanced, this wine may well turn out to be a modern-day clone of the glorious 1953. Anticipated maturity: Now-2020. Last tasted, Last tasted, 5/02.
A successful wine for the vintage, this blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot boasts complex notes of menthol, black currants, plums, licorice, and a hint of cappuccino in its stunning aromatics. Dense, medium to full-bodied, with high levels of tannin in a big, full-bodied style (much in the spirit of such classic Bordeaux vintages as 1966, 1986, and 1996), this wine possesses superb purity and serious length, but should be purchased only by those with considerable patience and a good, cold cellar, since it will need plenty of time. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2028.
The 2012 Palmer's inky/purple color is more saturated than most Margaux's, and it offers complex notes of blackberries, cassis, licorice, truffle and spring flowers. The wine is dense, rich and full-bodied with a muscular appeal, but the tannins, as high as they are, are sweet and well-integrated. None of the new oak used during the wine's upbringing is noticeable. Interestingly, this wine showed no evidence of dilution from the October 7-9 rainfall. I suspect it will require 3-4 years of cellaring, and should last for two decades. Thomas Duroux produced a brilliant 2012 Palmer that is unquestionably one of the stars of the vintage. High levels of tannin were up there with their best vintages, at least analytically. The final blend of 48% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot results in a style of wine that is totally different than that of its nearby neighbors, Chateau Margaux, Rauzan-Segla and Malescot St.-Exupery.
This stunning wine is one of the vintage's great successes. Administrator Thomas Duroux has fashioned a modern day version of Palmer's brilliant 1966. Displaying a rare combination of power and elegance, this dense purple-colored offering exhibits notes of blackberries, truffles, flowers, incense, and camphor. Long, classic, and medium to full-bodied with stunning texture and richness, this superb effort is a candidate for the finest Margaux of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2025+. Also tasted: 2004 Alter Ego de Palmer (88)