What is it about Château Palmer that foments such fervent admiration amongst British (and other) drinkers of Bordeaux? Is it the estate’s peculiarly British history, the château and vineyards having been in the possession until 1843 of General Charles Palmer, who had previously served under Wellington in the English army? Or is it those dramatic labels, that bold and intricate golden design on its inky black background, the most distinctive and virile in Margaux, and perhaps in all Bordeaux?
No, it is of course something much more obvious than that. It is the quality and vigour of the wines made at Château Palmer. This is one of a large collection – ten in all – of troisième cru classé properties located in Margaux, and in terms of sheer quality it has for many years led this pack by a length, producing wine of such a high standard that it has frequently wiped the floor not only with its peers, but also with its deuxième cru classé counterparts. But that is not all, for this admirable performance has also seen Château Palmer challenge the very best in the appellation; when the somnolent Château Margaux was going through a weaker patch during the 1970s, before it was rescued by the Mentzelopoulos family in 1977, its neighbour was frequently at the very top of the appellation. And in recent times this is again true, although these days it is clear that the two properties exhibit exquisitely high levels of quality, and it is perhaps fair to say I see Château Palmer and Château Margaux as being neck-and-neck within the appellation. Sometimes I prefer Château Margaux. But not infrequently I prefer Château Palmer. Could higher praise be possible?
So it becomes clear why the wines of Château Palmer have such a following. And with this in mind, here is my profile of this estate, as ever dealing with its history, from its origins through to modern-day, as well as an account of its modern-day position under the direction of the talented Thomas Duroux, details on its vineyards and vinifications, and of course my tasting notes on its wines.