When it comes to wines, eyes often twinkle at the sight of an Old World vintage, particularly those from the sublime vineyards of Bordeaux — among them is the ancient wine estate Château Palmer. Highly coveted by wine enthusiasts across the globe, Château Palmer is globally reputed as one of the most prestigious wineries of Bordeaux. Having been around since the early 1800s, the estate has established a strong standing for its consistency and premium quality despite history’s vicissitudes over the centuries. Here, Prestige offers insight into what makes the brand, encompassing the stories, the products and the passion that continues to define Château Palmer today.
Charles Palmer bought the entire wine estate from a widowed noblewoman he’d just met on a stagecoach ride.
Originally Château de Gascq, when Blaise Jean Charles Alexandre de Gascq passed away, his widowed wife sold it to a stranger she’d sat with on a stagecoach ride. The stranger, British Major General Charles Palmer, was intrigued by the potential behind the land, acquired it, and named it after himself. Since then, Château Palmer has seen its fair share of historical ups, downs, and hands—from the Pereire family who built the now famous and breathtaking château, to a union of the Ginestet, Miailhe, Mähler-Besse and Sichel families.
Today, the legacy continues with the descendants of the latter two households. From its first days until now, over two hundred years later, Château Palmer remains progressive, blending tradition with innovation and a visionary approach to winemaking.
Château Palmer doesn’t follow trends.
Like high fashion and art, Château Palmer’s wines do not follow trends. Whether the keen wine lovers’ latest favourite is a potent Rhône or strong Spanish palette, Château Palmer continues to abide by its own vision—an expression of an extraordinary terroir, or the soil, the topography and the climate from which the wine is born. True to its terroir, Château Palmer’s wines are exceptionally refined and full of subtlety.
Cultivating an environment means cultivating the life around it, and on this front Château Palmer takes the lead. Wild plants and grasses flourish between the vines alongside happy herds of cattle. A quaint village surrounds the château—on holidays, children of the winery staff inhabiting the stone houses play in the village garden.
Château Palmer is 100% biodynamic and saved a species from near-extinction.
In 2009, Château Palmer was one of the first wineries to hop on the biodynamic farming wagon and has been farmed 100% biodynamically since 2014. Château Palmer also works with the Conservatoire des Races d’Aquitaine to revive the Bordelaise cattle, once thought extinct—the rustic cows roam with a flock of also endangered Landaise sheep. But apart from all that, how are the wines made? With 54 stainless steel vats, grapes are fermented under carefully controlled conditions with reduced sulphur and indigenous yeasts.
In the barrel room, wine is aged at a constant temperature of 13°C. Stages of aging are experienced in the cellar’s chiaroscuro, from topping up to racking and fining with egg white, before the wine is bottled and ready to meet the world.
The Palmer wine tastes like a bouquet of flowers, fruits and spices.
History, stories and exquisite wine-making aside, now comes the most pressing question: which wine to drink? The classic bottle of Château Palmer must be the Palmer. A unique combination of grape varieties, the Palmer is a nuanced blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, subtly enhanced with a touch of petit verdot. During the aging process, new oak barrels are used in moderation for the Palmer, never going past 45-60%.
The taste? Expect the Château’s characteristic elusiveness and inimitability, soft to the tongue but complex and flavourful. Palmer is a bouquet of flowers and fruits and spices, tied together in a rich and generous flavour.
The Alter Ego isn’t a “second vin”, but a second label.
If Château Palmer were an artwork, Palmer and Alter Ego would be two interpretations. The Palmer would be a classical work, while the Alter Ego is a contemporary rendition—constantly changing and easily relished in its adventurous youth. Created using new ways to approach fruit selection and blending, Alter Ego gives you a wine that is at once instantly expressive, yet at the same time also very elegant with velvety tannins. Merlot is predominant in the blend, resulting in a seductive taste ready to be enjoyed even during the first years after bottling. The Alter Ego is aged for 20 months in barrels with around 25-40% of new oak to preserve the wine’s rich aroma. Spontaneous and full of juicy fruit, it is both intense and gentle, rich and delicate.
For more information about Château Palmer, visit https://www.chateau-palmer.com/.