Named for Major General Charles Palmer, who bought the estate from the Gascq family in the early nineteenth century, Château Palmer’s immaculately maintained vineyards are blessed with a favourable microclimate and enviable location overlooking the Gironde estuary. Its gravelly soils of sand and clay are typical of the area, however its grape composition is something of an anomaly. Equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, more than a little Petit Verdot and no Cabernet Franc at all, distinguish the parcels of Palmer from those of neighbouring estates, and impart a unique character to its wines.
Whilst obviously having made such an impact that the estate continues to bear his name, Major General Palmer sold the property in 1853 - two years before the historic Médoc classification. Banking brothers Émile and Isaac Péreire acquired Château Palmer, fulfilling a long-held dream of owning a prestigious estate in their childhood home of Bordeaux, and proceeding to replant and reorganise its vineyards and construct the grand neo-Renaissance château around which the estate is now centred. Today, in the hands of the Mähler-Besse and Sichel families who have held a stake in the château since 1938, the day to day running of the sixty-six hectare property is entrusted to its manager Thomas Duroux.
Respect for the unique terroir that breathes life into its wines is the central component of Palmer’s philosophy. Environmental sustainability and protection of the flora and fauna indigenous to the region is an obligation taken seriously by the team here, and the estate was certified 100% biodynamic in 2017.
In the cellar as much as in the vineyard, the focus is on making minor adjustments to benefit the resultant wines. Having undergone major renovations over the last two decades, the wine-making facilities at Château Palmer can now be considered state of the art, and afford the technical team the advantage of great control and precision. Only the finest fruits are selected from the harvest, then grapes from each parcel are vinified separately - the first fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel, conical vats, and the second (malolactic) fermentation in barrels. Finally, the wine is aged in 50% to 70% new oak for around twenty months.
Beginning in 1998, Château Palmer produced a second label ‘Alter Ego de Palmer’, marketed not as a second wine but as a separate - and equal - expression of the estate’s terroir. The property is keen to point out that Alter Ego has its own unique style and is a fine wine in its own right. Born of the same terroir, comprising the same three grapes but in different proportions and vinified using different wine-making techniques, this wine is intended to be enjoyed in its youth.
Consistently surpassing even the highest expectations, Château Palmer produces wines that are wonderfully rich and elegant with a superb velvet smooth texture and complex aromatic profile. Each year, the estate produces around 120,000 bottles of the Grand Vin and 96,000 of the Alter Ego.