The name Palmer was given to the Chateau Palmer Estate by Charles Palmer, a Major General from the British army who bought the winery in 1814 and then invested a great deal of time and money in developing the estate.
Between 1816 and 1831 he purchased more land and buildings and by the 1830s his property had expanded to 163 hectares, 82 of which were vineyards. Palmer’s Claret, as it was called, quickly gained popularity in London clubs and even found favor with the future King George IV. However, Palmer was living the fast life irresponsibly and by 1843 he was forced to sell Palmer’s Claret. The estate changed hands several times and in 1938 four families from Bordeaux came together and bought the property, which their descendants still own today.
In 2004 Thomas Duroux, a young enologist was appointed head of Château Palmer, in charge of guiding the name through a quiet revolution – continually raising the level of excellence, meeting market expectations, and innovating while respecting the past. For Château Palmer, this was more than a periodic revitalization; it was part of an ongoing process of renewal that started a long time ago and continues to this day.
Thanks to the Wine Warehouse, who distributes Château Palmer in Vietnam, I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a vertical tasting of five of these fantastic wines. The night started with Alter Ego, the young sibling of Château Palmer. Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage, a result of a new approach to selecting and blending, aiming to interpret the Château Palmer terroir differently without departing from the values that the label is known for: finesse and elegance, aromatic richness, harmony and length.
Four vintages of Château Palmer (starting in 1999) complemented the evening, all unique and charming, sharing everything that makes them famous: elegance, perfumed aromas, complexity and great length.
The wines owe their amazing fruit content to the high proportion of Merlot (47 percent), with only 47 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon and six percent Petit Verdot. When you smell these wines, you are in paradise. Every red and black fruit has entered the wine, giving it an amalgamation of wonderful aromas: blackberries, black currants, plums and raspberries, with fragrances of violets, roses, cedar wood and cigars. These aromas are matched by the complexity and roundness of the palate, delivering a great length of silkiness and velvetiness.
If you are looking for something special to reward your palate or as a present for a wine lover or close business partner, Château Palmer will definitely meet, if not exceed, your and everyone’s expectations.
What I’m Drinking This Month: Costiers de Nimes 2012 (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache). This is a fantastic wine. The nose delivers a mix of spices, cedar and pepper, which is replicated on the palate with great complexity and good length. I fell in love with this wine the moment I tried it, and each time I drink it I am still in love. It goes well with red meats, sausages and burgers, and is available at Wine Embassy.
*Alfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years, published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com.