Chateau Palmer 2015
• 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.
"Bottled relatively late in mid-September 2017, the 2015 Palmer is a blend of 44% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon with a small portion of Petit Verdot. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it offers vibrant red currants, black cherries, wild blueberries, earth and mineral characteristics to begin, with slowly unfurling floral notes of violets and dried roses plus compelling baker’s chocolate and fragrant earth layers. Medium to full-bodied, generously fruited and possessing firm yet very, very fine-grained, mind-blowingly ripe tannins, the multifaceted palate features something of a skip in its step in terms of freshness, while it goes beguilingly earthy on the finish with some mineral hints. Very classy, elegant and sophisticated, this vintage is downright regal in its juxtaposition between poise and audaciousness. Think 2005 Palmer with a tick more fruit intensity, perfume and passion." Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (2/21/2018, Interim Issue) Rating: 98