The vineyards are very densely planted (10,000 vines per hectare) to encourage competition among them. On the left bank of Bordeaux it is easy to write off the Merlot grape — not here. The grapes are equally divided between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with just a smidge of Petit Verdot. The Merlot is planted on some of their best stony plots, and is a crucial component of their wines — adding a generous, supple texture to the wines. The vines are painstakingly hand-harvested into small bins, keeping each individual varietal and lot isolated.
In the cellar, functional and architectural choices are intertwined. It was refurbished in 1995, and now houses 42 temperature-controlled, conical stainless steel vats. Each varietal, plot and batch is kept separate — a rigorous method of vinification that reflects the precision and detail that goes into the winemaking at Palmer.Élevage, or maturation, takes place in two separate barrel chais. The wine spends its first year in the aptly-named “first-year chai”, and is then moved to the “second year chai” to make room for the incoming vintage. The use of new oak barrels is common amongst the great châteaux of Bordeaux, however Palmer believes in using oak judiciously — the proportion of new barrels never exceeds 60% for the main wine, and 25-40% for Alter Ego, the second wine. In 2004, Château Palmer appointed a young agronomist and œnologist in his thirties, Thomas Duroux, at the head of the estate. For Duroux, who already had experience working at some of the greatest wineries around the world (in California, Italy, and elsewhere), coming back to his native Bordeaux was a deeply emotional experience. The shareholders entrusted him with the task of guiding Château Palmer through a quiet revolution: continually raising the level of excellence, answering market expectations, and innovating while respect the past. For Château Palmer, this is more than a periodic revitalization; it is part of an ongoing process of renewal that started long ago and continues to this day.
Château Palmer was classified as a troisième cru, or third growth, in the famously rarely-updated 1855 classification of the Médoc. However it has developed a serious reputation amongst Bordeaux fans. Its fanatical dedication to quality is legend — Palmer frequently commands higher press (and prices!) than other second growth Margaux wines. Even their second wine, Alter Ego, has a cult-like following of its own.
Vinecraft distributes the wines of Château Palmer in Florida, and purchases the wines directly from their cellar to ensure the very best storage conditions and provenance.
For currently available vintages and pricing, please email Vinecraft at email@example.com.
All images are used courtesy of Château Palmer.