Palmer and its Alter Ego are two nuanced expressions of the Château Palmer terroir, two interpretations of the variations offered by the climatic conditions of the vintage. These variations can be likened, in music, to symphonic pieces and their jazz adaptations, in the visual arts, to a classic painting and a contemporary rendering of the same subject, and, in literature, to an epic narrative in alexandrine verse and a prose poem.
Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage. It resulted from a new approach to selecting and blending devised to interpret the Château Palmer terroir differently without departing from the values that make the reputation of our wines – namely, finesse and elegance, aromatic richness, harmony and length.
Offering intense, crispy and juicy fruits, Alter Ego is a spontaneous uninhibited wine, soft and round as soon as it has finished barrel ageing. Its lush aromas and supple tannins make it a wine that can be appreciated in the first years after bottling.
At the end of the summer, the slowly maturing berries are regularly tasted to evaluate their potential. We pay attention to the taste of the grape, the thickness of the skin, and the resistance of the seed. By this time we already have a sense of what the wines will be like. We are looking for lush grapes for Alter Ego that will release the aromas of fresh fruit. Harvesting and vinification decisions are made based on the idea that we have of the Château Palmer and Alter Ego style. Final blend tastings usually come to confirm our intuitions. The batches chosen for Alter Ego are then blended and put into barrels to age for 18 months. The fruitiness and aromatic intensity are preserved by the use of a moderate percentage of new oak barrels (25 to 40%).
Characteristics of the vintage
The 2011 vintage will remain in our memories as the most precocious of the 2000s.
The vegetative year began with an exceptionally warm and dry spring. The first consequence was the vine’s early budding. The first flowers appeared in Château Palmer’s vineyards as early as May 10th, almost three weeks ahead of schedule.
The absence of precipitation accentuated water stress on our vines, and we noticed a few cases of coulure in our older plots of Merlot.
On June 4th, with the berries already formed, a hailstorm broke over our vineyard and reduced the harvest’s potential yield. The accompanying rain at least allowed the vine to recharge before the start of a new dry spell that would stretch on to July 14th.
June 26th and 27th were the two hottest days of the year 2011. The thermometer reached 38.8°C (101.8°F) in the shade in Margaux.
The young berries, very sensitive at this stage in their development, suffered from the heat wave conditions. Some berries literally withered and fell off the vine. This “scalding” resulted in another drop in potential yield for the 2011 harvest.
After such an extreme month of June, the rain returned mid-July and the temperatures cooled. If the vacationers were complaining, those of us in the vineyards were rejoicing. The vine recovered. This precipitation was healthy for the vine’s natural cycle. Veraison went smoothly in such favorable conditions.
At the end of the month of August, the sun came out and was our faithful companion throughout harvest. We started harvesting on September 7th, beginning with the early-ripening Merlots. The skins were especially thick, the combined effect of weather conditions and a small yield, allowing us to imagine an important phenolic potential. The Petit Verdots and the Cabernet Sauvignons, with their harvest finishing on September 29th, confirmed this impression.
After the great 2009 and 2010 vintages with their unique balances, 2011 has a classical structure with an alcohol level inferior to 13.5%. However, a frank acidity and a very good concentration of tight tannins guarantee a tremendous capacity to age for this vintage.
Harvest dates: from 09/07/2011 to 09/29/2011
Cabernet Sauvignon: 37%
Petit Verdot: 15%
Le Point, Jacques Dupont, 05/15/2012
« "C'est la seconde fois qu'il y a des petit-verdots dans l'Alter ego. On les a d'abord essayés avec palmer, mais ils jouaient un rôle plus important d'un point de vue aromatique dans Alter."
Fruits noirs, épices, complexe, terrien, bouche pleine, moelleuse, dense, frais doux, long. »
« Chateau Palmer's 2nd wine interestingly received all the estate's Petit Verdot this vintage. A glossy colour precedes a firm, fairly cool nose of juicy red fruits. Darker cherries and some sexy Palmer polish develop with air. Nice focused entry on the palate, bringing juicy, bright cherries with hints of richer, darker fruits and cream. Good freshness delineates, and the tannins are balanced in support, if not perhaps a tiny bit grainy. Finishes sweet and with velvety grip. Appealing. »
http://winewordsandvideotape.com/, Jeremy Williams, 05/09/2012
« Deep and dense looking; lovely perfume on the nose; attractive fruit; vibrant; quite seductive and floral; deceptive wine; lots of strength and density here; real substance; this is a substantial effort. 48% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot. 13.5% alc »
http://www.erobertparker.com/, Robert Parker, 04/30/2012
« More approachable (it tips the scales at 13.2% alcohol), the 2011 Alter Ego de Palmer is composed of 48% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and a whopping 15% Petit Verdot. Despite all of the latter varietal, the wine is velvety textured, pure and impressively endowed with a lovely fragrance. It should drink beautifully for 10-15+ years. »
http://www.erobertparker.com, Neal Martin, 04/27/2012
« The assemblage is 48% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and for the second time, 16% Petit Verdot since it was very aromatic. The 2011 has a precocious bouquet that has forgotten that this is supposed to be 2011 and not 2009: layers of sweet macerated dark cherries, blueberry and minerals. One can really sense that Petit Verdot. The palate is medium-bodied with tensile tannins on the entry. It has good acidity and weight, firm grip towards the finish. »
www.quarin.com, Jea-Marc Quarin, 04/26/2012
« Vin très coloré, au nez frais, fruité et aromatique. Bouche douce, tendre, de corps moyen, pour laquelle j'attendais plus de sève au milieu (le cru a été grêlé). La bonne présence aromatique en finale me laisse penser que l'élevage le grandira. »
TAST Pro, M. Bettane & T. Desseauve, 04/21/2012
« Noblement aromatique, très adroitement vinifié pour adoucir un tanin de naissance astrigent, frais équilibré et de grande finesse. Grande réussite. »
http://www.bbr.com, Simon Staples, 04/19/2012
« “Wahoo!” Tempted just to leave it at that really. Since 2005 particularly, tasting at Palmer has been one of the highlights of the week for myself and the BB&R team. It’s not only the Grand Vin that has been honed into a magnificent Adonis, but this too is a beauty to behold in its own right. Some second wines are a pale image of their big brother. However, Alter Ego is no Fredo to Michael Corleone. It’s lush, approachable, joyful even playful in comparison but by no means insignificant. It’s something fun to play with until the Grand Vin is ready to reveal itself. A definite buy for my cellar this year. »
http://www.thewinedoctor.com, Chris Kissack, 04/19/2012
« The second wine of Palmer. Merlot 48%, Cabernet Sauvignon 37% and Petit Verdot an unprecedented 15%. Alcohol 13%. Lovely dark fruit here, with dark sweet plum, nicely packed in, stylish though, concentrated but pure and defined. The palate is lovely, open and expressive, with plenty of delicious fruit character, also lightly minerally and fresh despite the darker tones. A rich structure on the palate, a good tannic backbone too. The tannins do have a velvety dominance in the middle, more typical of 2011, with a concentrated character, but with bright and fresh acids. A tannic finish, but it maintains some sense of elegance. Rich but fresh. Faithful to the vintage. »
http://www.decanter.com/wine/best-wines/s-Bordeaux-2011/781/2275, Decanter, 04/16/2012
« Lovely perfumed and floral aromas. Beautiful structure elegance, purity and definition and charm to come later. Drink 2015-2025. »
http://www.winemag.com, Roger Voss, 04/03/2012
« A wine that shows excellent structure, with ripe fruit and soft, warm tannins. It has weight while retaining its crisp acidity and intense black-currant flavor. »
http://www.winespectator.com, James Molesworth, 03/28/2012
« The Château Palmer Margaux Alter Ego 2011 is a blend of 48 percent Merlot, 37 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 percent Petit Verdot, a noticeably high Petit Verdot percentage. "The Petit Verdot was good, very aromatic, but structurewise it didn't add anything to the grand vin, so we decided to use it just for Alter Ego" said Duroux. The wine is taut but sappy, with lots of white pepper and kirsch flavors and a chalky energy on the tightly wound finish »
http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/, Jeff Leve, 04/16/2011
« 2011 Alter Ego Blending 48% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and for only the second time, 15% Petit Verdot, the wine opens with mocha, cocoa, truffle and cassis. In the mouth, the wine offers chocolate, cherry and dusty tannins.