Palmer: Three Ages of Wine
Château Palmer, 23/06/2014
The En Primeur period of early April seems already part of the distant past. Meeting more than 1000 professionals, from 43 different countries, gave us the opportunity to present our newest baby: the 2013 vintage. During these tasting sessions, our visitors also noticed the earliest buds growing on the vines, the first signs of the future 2014 vintage.
If each vintage were a child, Palmer would be a busy mother: she pampers her future 2014 baby, takes care of raising her new-born 2013 and holds the hand of her 2012 taking its 'first steps'.
The young 2012 vintage is finishing 2 years of barrel ageing. After having removed the post-fining sediment from one barrel to another, they are now resting in tanks to homogenize the wine before bottling at the end of June.
After their unveiling during the En Primeur tastings last April, the 2013 vintage will continue ageing in barrels. Like any type of education, it requires patience, observation and consideration.
The 2014 vintage is still in gestation. The team at Palmer has been attentively taking care of it for the past few months. Following winter pruning and before the vine began to grow, the wires and posts were repaired to be ensure optimum vine training. Desuckering and different ground treatments are now taking place; flowering is coming to an end and, overall, occurred in good conditions. The flowerhoods are separating from their receptacle announcing the future harvest of 2014...
Vintage after vintage, the wines of Château Palmer express our vision of an exceptional wine. We believe that it is born of the mysterious trilogy – terroir, history, memory – and all of our efforts are concentrated on bringing it into the world. Distinction, high standards and commitment are the values that guide every choice we make from the vineyard to the table where the wine is served.
Knowing your terroir, your grapes, and your wines – this is a threefold enterprise of patient observation. What seems to be a given is in fact a matter of exacting standards at every moment. To know the terroir you have to become intimately familiar with it. We strive to know the grape variety, subsoil, and exposure of each and every plot but also of each and every row within the plot, as we regard every vine as a unique individual. To know our grapes well, we closely monitor their development until maturity. To know our wines, we taste the batches, the vats, the barrels, and the bottles again and again.
Progress in œnology has provided us with insight into the development of wines. Progress in agronomy has given us a better understanding of the life of our vineyards. This makes for more precision in our interventions as much in the winery as in the vineyards. Applying the best technical innovations in a spirit of reconciliation between science and craftsmanship, we use all relevant means to reveal the unique character of the Palmer terroir with each new vintage.
With the grapes that nature offers us, our job is to create the best possible wine. Is this craftsmanship or artistry? No doubt both. Like skilled craftspeople that love their trade, we select and blend the batches with meticulous care. And like artists, we let ourselves be swept away by the work that is born, as it imposes itself upon our will, surprises, amazes and transcends us.
Ultimately our goal is to make Château Palmer wines as desirable as can be. To achieve this, everything we do, whether we work in the vineyard, the winery, or in the offices, is informed by high standards and a sense of detail Nothing is left to chance, not the choice of paper for a label, or that of an etching for the wood crates, or of a theme for a reception.
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: 45%
ttp://www.erobertparker.com/, Robert Parker, 04/30/2012
« Chateau Palmer’s 2011 yields of a minuscule 20 hectoliters per hectare were caused by the overall drought conditions, the extreme heat at the end of June, and some problems during flowering. Only 55% of the crop made it into Palmer, and given the lowest yields since 1961, the final blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon possesses huge tannins, but they are remarkably velvety and sweet. This opaque purple-colored, dense, concentrated, full-bodied wine will need time to totally form its personality. The harvest, which occurred between September 10-24, produced a big, boisterous, concentrated wine that should age for 25-30 or more years. »
http://www.erobertparker.com, Neal Martin, 04/27/2012
« The 2011 Palmer has a ripe sweet bouquet of black cherries, blueberry, a touch of iodine and crushed violets, flamboyant as usual. There is a hint of cough candy that develops with time. The palate is medium-bodied with a firm grip. There is a carapace of toasty tannins underneath which lies a core of dense black fruit, although it does not have the same degree of finesse on the finish as say, Rauzan Segla. This is quite a serious Margaux, one that probably deserves longer ageing than others to allow those brusque, rigid tannins to soften. »
www.quarin.com, Jea-Marc Quarin, 04/26/2012
« Le cru a été sérieusement touché par la grêle du 4 juin. Et le merlot sur graves a souffert. Rendement : à peine 20 hl/ha.
Couleur sombre, intense, belle. Nez fruité, fumé. Entrée en bouche juteuse et aromatique. Le vin se développe extrêmement fruité, savoureux, caressant et noble, sur une très bonne construction, tendre d'un côté et un peu plus ferme en finale (IPT 90). Bonne longueur savoureuse. Il est attendu que l'élevage permette de fondre la rencontre en milieu de bouche entre la douceur de l'attaque et la fermeté actuelle de la finale. Assemblage : 55 % merlot et 45 % cabernet sauvignon. Alcool : 13°2, pH : 3,7. »
TAST Pro, M. Bettane & T. Desseauve, 04/21/2012
« Tout petit rendement (20 hl/h !) avec tout ce qui va avec, texture tendue et serrée, mais pas asséchante, plus de droiture que de volupté, assez impressionnant dans son assise et sa persistance »
La Revue du Vin de France - Mai 2012, Philippe Maurange, Olivier Poels, Antoine Gerbelle et Raoul Salama, 04/20/2012
« Le Château a produit un vin d'une très grande densité, serré et concentré en bouche, doté d'une structure tannique imposante, mais à la finale très équilibrée et suave; D'une grande race. Pour la garde. »
http://www.bbr.com, Simon Staples, 04/19/2012
« Palmer is a First Growth in everything but a 1855 Medal. I don’t think it has always been, although there are some fabulous famous older vintages. I don’t think it reached the heady height until the wine making was taken over by Thomas Deroux, a man who strives for total perfection. He really has taken something very special and created an Adonis. I think if the Gods had been just a little more kind this year with the weather, he would have achieved that again with his 2011. Climatics aside this is a truly outstanding wine and one of the few stars of this tricky year. Pure, intense but with focussed power that is rare anywhere this year. Rich but not blousey, perfumed but not tarty. Beautiful precision that’s heavenly to try. »
http://www.thewinedoctor.com, Chris Kissack, 04/19/2012
« Merlot 55%, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, and more importantly none of the usual Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.1%. A pretty amazing colour here, coating the glass with its crimson hue. A very pure crushed fruit character on the nose, puréed forest fruits, elegant, rich and dark yet fresh. Really supple and seductive palate at the start, with energetic acidity underneath really rich fruit, very convincing. And a remarkably dense and tight, well-packed midpalate. Lots of ripe tannin in the finish but it sits behind the fruit very nicely. Very long. As I taste it I just keep coming back to the aromatics, which are beautiful. The tannins are the very dense and velvety, a good style for this vintage. Purity too, this reminds me of the 2010 a little, despite the different blend. Long, concentrated, cerebral but also seductive. »
http://www.decanter.com/, Decanter, 04/16/2012
« Dense colour, ripe red and black fruits, superb concentration and controlled power, very polished and intensely expressive, 1st Growth quality. Drink 2017-2035. »
http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/, Jeff Leve, 04/16/2012
« 2011 Palmer From an assemblage of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 13.5% alcohol. Flowers, boysenberry, truffle and earthy scents are found in the perfume. Soft, supple and bright, the wine ends with fresh, sweet, bright, cassis and black raspberry. »
http://www.asianpalate.com, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, 04/12/2012
« The 2011 Palmer expresses classic Margaux violets and roses with cedar spice on the nose. This wine is supple and round with a wonderful fleshy palate. The flavours are layered and long ranging from blackberries, violets and spices. This is a classic Palmer with a very long finish, nice depth and firm, ripe tannins. This is wine which will open up and offer a lot more in the long term. Cellar for a decade at least before enjoying. »
http://coefinewine.wordpress.com/, David Allen MW, 04/10/2012
« A deep, inky red/purple colour.
Clean fine aromas of fresh red fruit and refined new oak comprise the nose.
A big and very concentrated wine with incredibly fine tannins. This is fresh and very elegant wine with beautifully balanced alcohol and lovely precise flavours. The fruit is a combination of dense black fruits, chocolate with hints of cedar and cocoa butter. The finish is long and elegant, simultaneously displaying both good tannic grip and lovely suppleness. A very classy wine! 15.1% alc. »
http://www.winemag.com, Roger Voss, 04/03/2012
« A wine that has density, structure and firm tannins, with touches of wood. At this stage, it is solid and impressive; and the tannins draw the great fresh fruit into the heart of the wine. »
http://www.jamessuckling.com, James Suckling, 04/01/2012
« Palmer only made 20 hectoliters of wine a hectare. That must be the record for the smallest production in the vintage. Extraordinary concentration for the vintage with full body and rich velvety tannins yet it's fresh and intense. Really impressive and powerful. Wow. One of the wines of the vintage. »
http://www.winespectator.com, James Molesworth, 03/28/2012
« The Château Palmer Margaux 2011 features a slightly higher percentage of Merlot than usual in the blend of 55 percent Merlot and 45 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It shows an ample core of kirsch and bright cherry fruit that is very expressive, with flecks of white pepper, violet and tobacco. The nice racy acidity is well-embedded. It has solid length with a velvety edge in reserve that lets extra cassis and violet notes emerge, and it should stretch out nicely during the rest of its élevage »
, René Gabriel, 11/30/-0001
« 55 % merlot, 45 % cabernet sauvignon. Qu'ont en commun les millésimes 2011, 2006, 2000 et 1995 de Palmer ? Pour tous ces vins, le petit verdot a été exclu de l'assemblage. La plus petite vendange pour Palmer depuis 1961 ! Pas plus de 65 000 bouteilles environ. Les premières impressions du bouquet rappellent un Harlan : roses sombres, violettes, cannelle, cassis, séquoia. J'ai rarement connu un Palmer jeune aussi marqué par les fruits noirs. Ses aspects féminins n'empêchent pas ce vin à la texture veloutée et d'une très grande concentration de montrer un beau caractère, et par conséquent un grand potentiel de garde. »
, René Gabriel, 11/30/-0001
« 55 % Merlot, 45 % Cabernet Sauvignon. Was haben 2011, 2006, 2000 und 1995 Palmer gemeinsam? Bei all diesen Jahrgängen wurde auf den Petit Verdot in der Assemblage verzichtet. Bei Palmer ist es die kleinste Ernte seit 1961! Also gibt es nur etwa 65'000 Flaschen. Die erste Expression in der Nase erinnert an einen Harlan, dunkle Rosen, Veilchen, Zimt, Cassis, Blackcurrent, Redwood, selten habe ich einen jungen Palmer so schwarzbeerig erlebt. Samtige Textur, enorm dicht, trotz all diesen femininen Anflügen fehlt es diesem Wein nicht an Charakter und somit kann man hier auch von einer grossen Alterungsfähigkeit ausgehen. »