Chateau Palmer 2005
• Domaine: Château Palmer
• Appellation: Margaux
• Classification: Third Growth, 3ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Margaux, Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
If a reclassification were ever in the cards, Château Palmer would be up for a promotion without a doubt. This Third Growth Margaux estate transcends its ranking from 1855 and is now considered by many wine critics to belong in the higher ranks. These sensationally fragrant, richly complex wines are some of the finest examples of Bordeaux. Their second label, Alter Ego, has a cult-like following and if a new classification were ever to take place, would be easily considered a Fourth Growth wine or higher. Alter Ego is a worthy purchase for any wine buyer - and it never stays on the shelves too long. With knockout vintages each year, Château Palmer is a star producer with a massively loyal fanbase.
The history of Château Palmer dates far before it received its namesake. The vineyards were initially holdings of Château d’Issan before they were purchased by the fiery Madame de Gascq. Madame de Gascq saw the estate’s potential well before anybody else did and told Englishman Charles Palmer the wines of the estate were easily as good as some of the First Growth properties in the Médoc. Charles agreed with her, purchased the estate, and per the tradition of the time named it after himself. Charles Palmer tripled the property’s holdings to 80-hectares, and in 1843 sold it to the Periere family. The Periere family invested a lot of money into improving and modernizing the Château, only to sell it to a group of four powerful négociant families. Of these four families, the Mähler-Besse family and the Sichel family are still some of the major shareholders running the estate today.
In 1998, Château Palmer debuted their legendary second label, Alter Ego. Buyers take note – Alter Ego is not a Second Wine. It’s an entirely separate label with different plots used for production. Château Palmer is unique for a Left Bank estate because their vineyards – and wines including Alter Ego -- have a heavy preponderance of Merlot. These vines are planted within the mixture of gravelly/clay soils. Many other properties in Margaux plant their Merlot vines simply in clay, but what makes Château Palmer unique is their decision to plant these vines in their more graveled areas.
Today Château Palmer is overseen by the young and energetic Thomas Duroux. Duroux brings with him an impressive background; he formerly was in charge of the Super Tuscan legend Ornellaia prior to his working at Château Palmer. Before that, he apprenticed at Château Léoville Las Cases and has worked at renowned wineries such as Mondavi and Tokay. Thomas Duroux was responsible for transitioning the vineyards to 100% biodynamic viticulture. Sheep graze in the 60-hectare vineyards and a herd of cows provide manure for fertilizer. Special nettle and horsetail teas are sprayed on the vines to assist in fertilizing and protecting them. Château Palmer has also invested in soundwave machines that emit tones and vibrations to help develop protein cells in the vines. Château Palmer has been Certified Biodynamic since 2017, with their 2014 label being their first 100% biodynamic vintage.
The viticultural team at Château Palmer has a culture of respect regarding the land, their wines, and their team. That holistic mentality and consistent pursuit of excellence manifests itself in their profound wines – year after year.
"Tasted at the Château Palmer vertical in London, the 2005 Château Palmer is a legend in the making. Apparently the vines received 57% less rain than average, yet the 2005 shrugs off any water deficiency and has nurtured a wondrously pixelated bouquet, whereby mineralité shines through the black cherry and blueberry fruit. Search deeper and you discover veins of graphite that impart a Pauillac-like allure. The palate is medium-bodied and intense, but it is not overwhelming, a Margaux that is galvanized with a firm backbone thereby ensuring this will age over the long term. The symmetry here is enthralling - a 2005 that is destined for greatness. The only question is whether it will surpass the 2009 or 2010 Palmer? It will be fun finding out. Tasted May 2015." Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate (5/29/2016, Interim Issue) Rating 97
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