2015 Palmer

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Average critic rating : 96.21 points



A dark, voluptuous beauty, the 2015 Palmer is just as beautiful today as it was from barrel a few months ago. Mocha, plum, black cherry, tobacco and cedar are fused together in an effortless, racy Margaux endowed with real pedigree. Sweet tannins round out the plush, seamless finish, but they are there. This is a hugely promising Palmer. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Apr 2016, www.Vinous.com



The 2015 Palmer is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot matured into up to 70% new oak. The official start of the picking was 22 September, finishing on the 7 October with the Petit Verdot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. This has a wonderful bouquet with layers of dark cherry, boysenberry, a faint hint of dark chocolate and minerals. There is superb delineation here. The palate is medium-bodied, but this constitutes a decidedly more structured Palmer than I have encountered in recent years, perhaps a little more masculine due to the slightly higher Cabernet content. This is a classic Palmer made by winemaker Thomas Duroux, symmetrical in some way, poised and effortless on the finish. Those who like the more showy Palmer might not warm to this 2015, but this has real class and sophistication, a Palmer that will repay those with the nous to cellar it for 10-15 years. Expect it to reside at the top of my banded score. Apr 2016, www.eRobertParker.com, Drink: 2027-2060



A wine with incredible character and style with black ink and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, extremely fresh and structured with riffing tannins. It is muscular and powerful. White pepper, sea salt, mineral, stone character. A wine built for the long term. The making of the new 1961. Mar 2016, www.JamesSuckling.com



44% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. Picked 22 September to 7 October. A really massive step above Alter Ego on the nose. Really fresh and polished. Lovely bramble fruit. Not that dense but really complete and beautifully balanced. Silky tannins. Real drive and lift towards the end. Very Margaux. 14.1%. Apr 2016, www.JancisRobinson.com, Drink: 2023-2040



Superb bouquet of black fruits with dry spice, tobacco and liquorice. Densely textured palate with incredible backbone: '2015 has all the charm we had in 2009 but more precision to make a serious wine without being severe,' says CEO Thomas Duroux. Apr 2016, Steven Spurrier, www.Decanter.com, Drink: 2022-2045



Floral, appealing and remarkably loose knit and open at this young age, this is a very appealing rather than a profound Palmer, with succulent red berry fruit, notes of tobacco and cedar wood and good underlying structure. Needs to put on a bit more weight in barrel. Apr 2016, www.timatkin.com, Drink: 2022-2030



Barrel Sample. This wine is structured and extraordinarily dense. Powerful tannins and a hint of chocolate from extraction give the wine concentration. The richness of the wine is right there, just suggesting alcohol. There is freshness at the end that brings a final, delicious lift. Apr 2016, Roger Voss, www.wineenthusiast.com

Graphs indicate market price trends as calculated by FINE+RARE’s internal market making system and are for guidance only. E&OE.

Chart showing (to 07/10/2016) market price for 12x75cl standard case:

Palmer 2015
+£269.43     (+12.26%) Latest price:  £2,467.43
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Chateau Palmer: The Importance

In the words of Robert Parker: “Palmer can be as profound as many first growths, and in vintages such as 1961, 1966, 1067, 1970, 1975, 1983, 1989, 1995, 2001, 2004, and 2005 it can be better than many of them.” Judging by recent scores from Wine Advocate 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 would all likely vie to feature on that list too.


In fact in some years Château Palmer has surpassed the dominance of the First Growths, as Neal Martin explains: “There have been periods in history when Château Palmer has gently eased the crown from the head of Château Margaux to become the most esteemed wine within the commune.” He goes on to denounce its ranking in the 1855 Classification: “Few would argue that its status as a Third Growth does complete injustice to Palmer's wines over the last four decades, particularly since its immortal 1961 vintage [100 points, Neal Martin] practically invented the term ‘super-Second’.”


Château Palmer has cemented its position in the very top echelon of fine wine’s greats. At time of writing, the innovative wine rating website Wine Lister placed Palmer only a fraction behind Le Pin, on a scale of Bordeaux wines, with a scoring system based on critic data, distribution, popularity, ageing-potential, price and liquidity. The high esteem this brand is held in was proven by a barrel of 2015 Palmer selling at a Sotherby’s auction in Hong Kong for HK$3m, six times its expected value.

Chateau Palmer: The Insight

A consistently high-scoring Margaux, the Grand Vin is one of the most sought-after and iconic wines in the world. The quantity produced has been dramatically reduced since the introduction of Alter Ego de Palmer (around 10,000 cases per year), making it harder to get one’s hands on. The high Merlot content makes Palmer unique on the Left Bank, although the die-hard fans would say that this is the true taste of Margaux.


Alter Ego de Palmer (around 8,000 cases per year) is a second label not a second wine, although many still view it that way. The launch of this label boosted the quality of Palmer’s Grand Vin and also provides an accessible way to experience this incredible winery. Jeff Leve, of The Wine Cellar Insider, says: “If a reclassification ever took place, it would certainly deserve Fourth Growth Status.”


Château Palmer also occasionally produces Palmer Historical XIX Century Wine – a nod to a nineteenth century tradition of bolstering Bordeaux varietals with ripeness from the Northern Rhône, in this case 15% Syrah – and a white made from Muscadelle, Loset and Sauvignon Gris. Production of these wines is only around 100 cases, they are therefore rarely seen.


Palmer owns Château Desmirail in Margaux, which again offers a very affordable insight into this brand.

Chateau Palmer: The Background

Originally part of Château d’Issan, the vineyards were separated and what is now Château Palmer became Château de Gascq. Owner Madame de Gascq, who apparently boasted that her wines were as good as Lafite’s, sold the property to Charles Palmer, a British field officer in the Duke of Wellington’s army. Pulling on his charm and connections to the Prince Regent, he managed to increase the size and standing of the estate considerably. When he died Château Palmer passed to the Pereire family, banker brothers and rivals of the Rothschilds, who built the famous conical roofed château and vastly elevated the status of the estate, unfortunately not quite in time for the 1855 Classifications. The Pereire brothers were forced to sell under the combined weight of The Great Depression, phylloxera and war. The site was rescued by a number of families, two of which still form the majority shareholders today: Mähler-Besse and Sichel.


Winemaking is currently carried out by Thomas Duroux, formerly of Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia, who has over seen many of the greatest vintages produced. The 66 hectare site located on the gravel plateau in the centre of Margaux has moved to biodynamic farming. Thomas Duroux says: "The biodynamic approach gives more identity in each block, and we can understand the diversity and adapt the winemaking." Cabernet Franc has been removed and the 40 year old vines are formed of a roughly even split of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon plus around 6% Petit Verdot.


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