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 principal characteristic of the 2012 vintage is that of a remarkable contrast between spring, summer and early autumn.
In the spring, the abundant rainfall from April to June is well above average.
This cool and damp weather brought about a late yet heterogeneous bud break. Flowering also presents the same characteristics. It begins much later and lasts longer compared to the previous vintage. Taking place in unfavorable conditions it results in a high percentage of coulure in our oldest Merlots, as in the 2002 vintage.
The risk of developing diseases (downy and powdery mildew) is high and requires our continuous attention: as it happens, a particularly healthy vineyard remains the best prevention.
The summer weather changes completely.
At the end of June, the sun begins to shine and temperatures finally rise. The first berries begin to change colors on July 23rd- confirming that the vintage would be late, as in 2002 or 2008. It hardly rains in August or during the first three weeks of September, with only 9mm of rain during this period. These particularly favorable conditions, due to the lack of water and nitrogen, allow the vine to focus its energy on developing phenolic compounds (tannins and anthocyanins), and thus produce good quality grapes.
The weather takes a change for the worse again during the last week of September. The harvest is intense; it takes place at Château Palmer between October 1st and the 15th without interruption and in wet conditions. The possibility of developing Botrytis is constant. However, the low yields of 28 hl/ha, helped maintain healthy conditions around the grape clusters.
The Merlots, rich and exuberant, remind us of the best vintages of the end of the first decade of the 2000s. The Cabernet Sauvignons are linear and precise and in line with a 2008. This unusual marriage harmoniously highlights the smoothness, elegance and refinement of Château Palmer wines.
Harvest dates: from 10/01/2012 to 10/15/2012
Cabernet Sauvignon: 40%
Petit Verdot: 9%
Bettane & Desseauve, Bettane & Desseauve, 04/25/2013
« Une des plus remarquables textures dans la catégorie « autre vin », nez de violette très dégagé, tannin fin, remarquable dans son format et dans son millésime. »
Bordeaux Index, Giles Coopers, 04/25/2013
« Low yields - 28hl/ha, a result of impact of 2011. Alter Ego makes up 45% of the estate’s crop, with Petit Verdot in both wines for the first time. Deep, violet and dark cherry nose. Intense hit on the palate with some complexity. Proper Cabernet characters but with a plumminess from the Merlot. »
Decanter, Steven Spurrier, 04/25/2013
« Superb colour, dense, spicy, quite succulent black fruits, powerfully elegant with Cabernet building on the finish. »
eRobertParker.com, Robert Parker, 04/25/2013
« The second wine, which has gone from strength to strength over recent years, the 2012 Alter Ego de Palmer, is a blend of 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. Spicy and earthy, displaying notes of new saddle leather, roasted herbs and meaty barbecue, it is a medium-bodied, fleshy, attractive wine to drink over the next 10-12 years. »
http://www.jancisrobinson.com, Jancis Robinson, 04/25/2013
« 18% press wine, pH 3.65. Quite strong leafy Cabernet aromas, but lovely freshness and round tannins. Is this like Palmer of old? I don’t think I would guess this was majority Merlot... Just slightly green on the end. 13.4% »
jamessuckling.com, James Suckling, 04/25/2013
« This has incredible length for a second wine. Full body, with dark berry and raspberry character, ultra-fine tannins, and a long, long finish. Tiny grape yields for the vintage. 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. »
JMQ.com, Jean-Marc Quarin, 04/25/2013
« Couleur sombre, intense et belle. Nez fruité, un peu discret, de type mûr. Bouche juteuse et fondante, au milieu moelleux et très hédoniste. Le vin évolue savoureux sur une bonne corpulence, un toucher gras et des tanins fins. C’est très bon ! Longueur normale.
Assemblage 9 % de petit verdot, 51 % merlot et 46 % cabernet sauvignon. Degré d’alcool 13°4. PH 3.75. IPT 75. »
The Wine Cellar Insider, Jeff Leve, 04/25/2013
« Alter Ego 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot, which reached 13.4% alcohol. The wine will be aged in 30% new, French oak for between 16 and 18 months. With a ruby color, flowers, cherry blossoms, earth, fennel and spice notes lead to a sweet, cherry filled wine, with dusty tannins, supple textures and fresh, spicy cassis finish. »
Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss, 04/25/2013
« Barrel sample. This wine is rich, with delicious fruitiness, as well as ripe black fruits. With all this opulence, however, there is also great freshness and crispness that comes from the Cabernet in the blend. »
Wine Spectator, James Molesworth, 04/25/2013
« Offers notes of smoke, roasted herb and cassis bush, with solid plum fruit. Shows grace on the palate, delivering dark, silky fruit and caressing tannins lined with an iron edge. »