2011 Ch. Palmer, Margaux

2011 Ch. Palmer, Margaux

Product: 20118004309
2011 Ch. Palmer, Margaux

Description

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.
Simon Staples, Berrys’ Fine Wine Director
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About this WINE

Château Palmer

Château Palmer

Château Palmer is a leading wine estate in Margaux. Within its appellation, Palmer is certainly the closest rival to their first growth neighbour, Ch. Margaux. Although officially ranked a third growth, at their best the wines of Ch. Palmer are among the greatest anywhere in Bordeaux.

The estate dates to the 17th century, though it was not until 1814 that Englishman Charles Palmer took ownership and gave it his name. In 1938, the estate was bought by four Bordeaux négociant families, two of whom – the Sichel and Mähler-Besse families – own the property today. Since 2004, the estate has been led by the charismatic agronomist and oenologist Thomas Duroux, who had lately returned from a stint making wine at Ornellaia, in Tuscany. He undertook major renovations including a complete modernisation of the grape reception area, the vat rooms and barrel cellar. In the vineyards, the technical team began experimenting with biodynamic farming and today Palmer is among the leading biodynamic vineyards in Bordeaux. In addition to the Grand Vin, the Ch. Palmer portfolio also includes a cuvée called Alter Ego. Introduced in 1998, Alter Ego is produced from grapes grown on dedicated plots and with a different blend from that of the Grand Vin. As such, Ch. Palmer regard it not as a second wine, but very much as a distinctive cuvée in its own right.

The estate lies just outside the village of Margaux, its 66 hectares of vines planted on a plateau of gravel, sand and clay soils overlooking the Gironde estuary. Plantings include equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon at 47% each, along with 6% Petit Verdot. Although the average age of the vines is fairly typical of the region at about 40 years, some of the vines are over 70 years old. That, along with the relatively high Merlot content and the benefits of careful, well-established biodynamic practices, may account for both the richness and complexity of the wines.

Fermentation takes place in conical, stainless steel vats in varying sizes, to permit each variety and parcel to be fermented separately for subsequent selection and blending. The Grand Vin is aged for 20-22 months in barrel, of which less than 50% is new. Thanks to the health and consistency of their biodynamically produced fruit, Palmer have been able, over the past few years, to begin safely reducing the amount of sulphur added throughout the process, with the aim of producing wines with more freshness and purity of flavour. For Alter Ego, less new wood is used, and ageing time is slightly reduced with a view to producing a wine they describe as “distinguished by its freshness of fruit, crisp intensity and richness from the moment out of barrel”.

Between 2008 and 2013, Ch. Palmer made the transition to 100% biodynamic farming. In addition to its vineyards, the estate is home to a diversity of complementary plants and grazing animals.

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Margaux

Margaux

If Pauillac can be seen as the bastion of ‘traditional’ Red Bordeaux, then Margaux represents its other facet in producing wines that are among Bordeaux’s most sensual and alluring. It is the largest commune in the Médoc, encompassing the communes of Cantenac, Soussans, Arsac and Labaude, in addition to Margaux itself. Located in the centre of the Haut-Médoc, Margaux is the closest of the important communes to the city of Bordeaux.

The soils in Margaux are the lightest and most gravelly of the Médoc, with some also containing a high percentage of sand. Vineyards located in Cantenac and Margaux make up the core of the appelation with the best vineyard sites being located on well-drained slopes, whose lighter soils give Margaux its deft touch and silky perfumes. Further away from the water, there is a greater clay content and the wines are less dramatically perfumed.

Margaux is the most diffuse of all the Médoc appelations with a reputation for scaling the heights with irreproachable wines such as Ch. Margaux and Ch. Palmer, but also plumbing the depths, with too many other châteaux not fulfilling their potential. There has been an upward shift in recent years, but the appellation cannot yet boast the reliability of St Julien. However, the finest Margaux are exquisitely perfumed and models of refinement and subtlety which have few parallels in Bordeaux.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Margaux, Ch. Palmer, Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Ch. Rauzan-Ségla , Ch. Dufort-Vivens, Ch. Ferrière, Ch. du Tertre, Ch. Giscours, Ch. d'Angludet.

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Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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Critics reviews

Wine Advocate96/100
Wine Spectator 92-95/100
Decanter18.5/100
Wine Advocate96/100
The opaque blue/purple-colored 2011 Palmer reveals a stunning bouquet of licorice, truffles, camphor, spring flowers, black raspberries and black currants. One of the superstars of the vintage, this brilliant 2011 possesses superb concentration and purity, medium to full body, and remarkable length of close to a minute. A tour de force in winemaking, the Palmer team merits accolades for achieving this level of quality in a more challenging vintage than either 2009 or 2010. The wine of the vintage in Margaux, tiny yields of 20 hectoliters per hectare, a final blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and a severe selection (only 55% of the production made it into Palmer) are the reasons for this success.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 30/04/2014 Read more
Wine Spectator 92-95/100
Shows an ample core of kirsch and bright cherry fruit that's very expressive, with flecks of white pepper, violet and tobacco. The racy acidity is well-embedded, and this has solid length, with a velvety edge in reserve that lets extra cassis and violet notes emerge. Should stretch out nicely during the rest of its élevage.
Wine Spectator's 2011 Top-Scoring Red Bordeaux
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, April 5, 2012 Read more
Decanter18.5/100
Dense colour, ripe red and black fruits, superb concentration and controlled power, very polished and intensely expressive, 1st Growth quality.
(Decanter - Bordeaux 2011 coverage - April 2012 Read more