If the 1855 classification of Bordeaux were to be carried out today, Chateau Palmer would be the highest ranked second growth, despite having been classified as a third growth the first time around. Palmer 2016 has just been awarded a potential 100-point score, besting Chateau Margaux, its neighbour in the village of Margaux: the Chateau’s stock has never been higher. Its truly global cachet extends to its famous second wine Alter Ego, which is viewed as chief among the second wines, of the superb seconds. Alter Ego is almost as renowned as the Grand Vin and is a pervasive favourite among claret drinkers. It is noteworthy that Alter Ego was introduced in 1998, designed to be Grand Vin quality, thus replacing La Reserve de General as the Estate’s second wine. Prior to 1998 Chateau Palmer made 20,000 cases, however, the introduction of Alter Ego reduced this to 12,000. The remaining production, around 8,000 cases since then goes into Alter Ego. Alter Ego therefore is perennially fashioned from many of the vines that produced Palmer.
Today we are delighted to be able to offer the stunning 2014 Alter Ego. We have highlighted this due to its obvious quality versus price differential. We can offer it today for £250 per 6x75cl, or £495 per 12x75cl. It has just been rescored to 93 points by James Suckling, its joint third highest score from him and 90-92 by Neal Martin from barrel. This puts it on par with the 2009 and 2010 from him which trade at £550 and £600 per case of 12. In fact, Alter Ego shows superb vintage premium, the 89-point scoring 2005 trades at £950! The 2014 vintage also marks the bicentenary of the Estate taking its name from Major General Palmer. To mark this, 2014 was the first year they harvested completely biodynamically, with no sulphur treatment to the harvested grapes. The market expects Martin to push to 92 points from bottle, or higher, when he releases his in-bottle scores. If you have tasted Alter Ego before you will know first-hand why it is so greatly regarded, representing truly spellbinding claret.
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The History of Palmer
Chateau Palmer originally formed part of the historic estate of Chateau d’Issan until the late 16th century when a part of it was sold to the Gascq family. Originally called Château Gascq, the wine was a favourite at the court of Louis XV. Following the battle of Toulouse, the British General Charles Palmer decided to remain in France and purchase the Estate, changing the name to Chateau Palmer in 1814. He gradually bought additional surrounding land and developed the Chateau in to one of the finest producers in Margaux.
In 1853 Palmer was bought by the industrialists Emile and Isaac-Rodrigue Péreire whose name in the banking world rivalled that of the Rothschilds. Sadly they did not have enough time to turn around the fortunes of the wine by the time the 1855 classification was announced, but they did build the distinctive and much loved turreted Chateau and developed the Estate. Palmer was sold in 1938 to the négotiants Sichel, Ginestet, Miailhe and Mähler-Besse and these four famous Bordeaux families began to build Palmer back to its former glory. Sichel and Mähler-Besse remain owners to this day.
Alter Ego de Palmer 2014, 12×75 – £495 IB or 6×75 – £250 IB
93 Points, James Suckling
Aromas of spices and earth with mushrooms. Dark fruit. Full-bodied, dense and rich with earth and spices. A beauty. Soft and juicy. Savory yet exotic. From biodynamically grown grapes. First year. Drink or hold.
90-92 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The Alter Ego de Palmer 2014 is a blend of 52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Petit Verdot. It has an opulent, glossy bouquet with layers of small dark cherries and plenty of glycerin. The palate is more reserved than the bouquet suggests: saturated tannins, a little chewiness on the entry but suppler towards the finish. It feels very linear in keeping with the style of the vintage, the finish a little sweet than its peers with a dab of licorice on the aftertaste. Drink: 2019 – 2035.
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