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The life breath of Château Palmer.
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13.02.2017
Charleston
It’s a city of inspiration, of refined architecture and enchanting gardens...

Charleston, South Carolina
It’s a city of inspiration, of refined architecture and enchanting gardens. Gardens of memory, like those of the historic Magnolia Plantation. Home to the oldest unrestored gardens in America, it’s a place where humanity and nature seem to have struck a rare balance, a perfect harmony.
 
Here, nature thrives, speaks, shares and inspires; it awakens curiosity and excites creativity.
 
Perhaps it was these same gardens which, in 1923, whispered a few precious notes into the ear of the pioneering jazz pianist James Price Johnson, composer of the song “Charleston”.
 
One of the most widely played jazz pieces of its era, “Charleston” became the soundtrack of the Roaring Twenties. Later, it would also be the first song learned by a promising young talent, a seven-year-old boy who became one of America’s greatest jazzmen – the saxophonist Archie Shepp.
 
Archie Shepp discovered music with his father, who taught him his first chords, including those of “Charleston”. Thus began his long story with jazz. More than just his career, Shepp has devoted his life to music.
 
After decades of innovation, cadenced by one audacious recording and collaboration after another, on April 4, 2016, Shepp was recognized for his exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz when he received the NEA Jazz Masters award ­– the highest honour bestowed on jazz artists in America.
 
Now it’s this living legend who honours us, when on March 31, 2017, he comes to Château Palmer to interpret the 2016 vintage for the annual Hear Palmer concert.
 
Celebrating his 80th birthday this year, Archie Shepp continues to take us on fabulous journeys with his music. Journeys which, unconsciously, might even lead us back to the enchanted gardens of one genteel old city in South Carolina…

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24.01.2017
In the Heart of Winter  
In recent days, as a cold snap has swept across France, a delicate layer of ice has begun to cover the vineyards...

January 2017 – In recent days, as a cold snap has swept across France, a delicate layer of ice has begun to cover the vineyards of Château Palmer. A white frost.
 Surrounded by this silent nature, the vignerons have begun pruning the vines and carrying out an ensemble of winter duties; tasks with names like sécaillage, acanage and pliage.
 
Sécaillage, for example, refers to the upkeep of vine trellising, and consists of replacing broken stakes and repairing and retightening the guide wires which will support the vine in the year to come.
 
Acanage, or training, involves tying each vine trunk to its marker (a small stake) and the guide wire. This practice stabilizes the vines before the soil is worked. To provide the vine sufficient support it will need to be secured in three places: first around the trunk and then around each of its two branches. This winter task generally starts one or two weeks after the beginning of pruning. This year, we began training in mid-December.
At Château Palmer, the vines are trained using willow stems – sometimes called “withes” in English, or vimes in French – an ancestral method never abandoned here. The bond it creates is at once durable and natural. Depending on weather conditions, a willow knot can last between two and three years. When one eventually gives out, it simply falls to the ground, decomposing naturally in the soil, to be replaced by another.
To tie a willow knot, the vigneron wraps a willow stem around a vine trunk or a branch. Next she or he intertwines the ends of the stem together, and then bends one end of the stem back against the trunk or branch to ensure its hold. The other end of the stem is then clipped off. During the winter season, this series of movements is repeated, swiftly and assuredly, around 200 times a day by a vigneron.
 
Finally, pliage (literally “folding”), consists of bending down and binding to the guide wire each of the future fruiting canes (mature vine shoots selected and kept in place during pruning). The number of canes will depend on the vigour of each vine. At Château Palmer we generally preserve two.
 
So many intricate, meticulous tasks, realized by women and men of such rigour and patience…  it’s thanks to them that, when the frost recedes and spring returns, the vineyards will awaken anew.
 

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05.12.2016
2016: IN THE WORKS
November has come to an end... the 2016 vintage is maturing gently in the cellar, sheltered from the autumn chill.

December 2016 -  November has come to an end... the 2016 vintage is maturing gently in the cellar, sheltered from the autumn chill. But let’s look back now at those first, ever-singular steps taken by the new vintage.
 
Unlike the vines which have been quick to unveil their warm autumn colours – from orange to red to brown – in the vat room, the 2016 vintage took a little while before it finally slipped into its elegant ruby red. Thankfully, though a bit shy at first, the anthocyanins (natural pigments present in the grape skins which impart their colour to the wine) finally bestowed their lovely palette of deep and luminous reds.
 
As for the macerations, they too lingered a bit longer than usual. No risk of over-extraction this year, though, since the tannins had been ripened to perfection, thanks to the generous October sun. Thanks to this supple tannic structure, at once caressing and powerful, the wines are fleshy yet firm.
 
Another particularity of 2016: a very quick malolactic fermentation, thus yielding beautifully, sharply defined aromas during post-harvest vat tastings. The wines are now in barrel, ready to begin their long months of ageing. The first racking has taken place and the tastings to decide the final blend will begin during the month of December, when at last will be revealed the faces of Alter Ego and Palmer – the 2016 vintage…

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07.11.2016
Autumn at Chateau Palmer
Whilst the autumnal coolness settled in Margaux, the harvest finished with the last plot of Petit Verdot on Tuesday 18th...

November 2016 - Whilst the autumnal coolness settled in Margaux, the harvest finished with the last plot of Petit Verdot on Tuesday 18th October.
 
The 2016 vintage has been characterised by a late and prolonged harvest, due to sunny weather during the month of October. A radiant sun and relatively mild and dry weather allowed us to wait for the best moment to harvest the grapes. Patience was therefore the key of this harvest.

The work in the vat room is intense and the cellar workers are keeping up the pace. Pumping over and controlled temperatures so as to optimise the alcoholic fermentation, maceration to extract the delicate tannins, the wine run off, the vats emptied, the remaining grapes pressed,  and the wine barrelled…tasks that take place one after another, according to the decisions taken during the daily tastings of the different plots.
 
While in the cellar, the 2016 vintage is taking shape and promises to be a great year, outside the vines have taken on beautiful autumnal colours and are slowly falling asleep for the winter... before giving birth to a new vintage in a few months time.
 

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23.09.2016
Illustration of the vineyard
The month of September is drawing to a close, and all eyes are on the small dark grapes, hidden under a sea of dark green.

September 2016 - The month of September is drawing to a close, and all eyes are on the small dark grapes, hidden under a sea of dark green. In this sleepy landscape, it is worth taking time to observe nature in every detail. If one looks close enough, there are nuances in this sea of solid green.

Throughout the world there is an array of grape varieties. Each one with its own set of characteristics.
Ampelography is the field of botany concerned with the identification and classification of grapevines.

At Chateau Palmer, three grape varieties live side by side on the estate's 66 hectares. Each one can be identified due to subtle differences, notably in their leaves.

Merlot is a key grape variety at Chateau Palmer, the signature of our wines. The leaves are cuneiform, meaning that they get wider from the base to the top of the leaf. The leaves are also slightly indented.
Cabernet Sauvignon, a staple in the Medoc, has an orbicular leaf that is as large as it is long. The upper side of the leaf is a deep dark green whilst the under side is a delicate paler green.
Petit Verdot, the third grape variety, which completes the blending of Palmer and Alter Ego, also has an orbicular leaf with straight short teeth.

For the curious amongst us, the beautiful nuances of colour and shape in this landscape are there for the taking.

 

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15.09.2016
Picasso, regards croisés
Chateau Palmer completes 2016 with an exhibition entitled "Picasso, regards croisés", running from September 10th..

August 2016 - Chateau Palmer completes 2016 with an exhibition entitled "Picasso, regards croisés", running from September 10th until December 20th 2016. This exhibition shows a series of photographs by André Villers, Edward Quinn and Mart Engelen.

Pablo Picasso, arguably the most famous and most influential painter of the 20th century, was also the most photographed.
André Villers and Edward Quinn were amongst the few that Pablo Picasso allowed into his private life. Both photographers were able to take photographs of him as he worked and in his private life over a period of years.

André Villers met Picasso in Vallauris in 1953. He spent a number of years observing him discreetly and photographing him. "When he painted, he paid attention to nothing else, he was too concentrated on what he was doing. Next to him, I observed his wisdom", explained Villers.
Edward Quinn photographed the rich and famous in the 1950s on the Côte d'Azur - Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren to name but a few. He photographed Pablo Picasso in 1951 during a ceramic exhibition in Vallauris and became close friends with the artist. He produced series of photographs of Picasso, showing him in both his working and personal life.
Mart Engelen visited many of the places where Pablo Picasso lived and worked, from Vallauris to Cannes visiting Vauvenargues or Mougins, looking for remnants of "Picasso's spirit".

The "Picasso, regards croisés" exhibition is open from September 10th until December 20th 2016 and can be seen when visiting Chateau Palmer. To book please send an email to chateau-palmer@chateau-palmer.com.

 

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08.09.2016
The 2014 vintage, the final phase
Whilst the grape harvest is nearly upon us, another activity has kept the cellars busy over the past few days.

August 2016 - Whilst the grape harvest is nearly upon us, another activity has kept the cellars busy over the past few days. On the estate, the end of the summer is bottling time.

At the beginning of July, the wine that has been resting in barrels was put back into the vats for the final blending. As the wine evolves differently in every barrel this stage allows us to harmonise the wine.

Then, at the end of August, over the course of nearly a week, small machines were set up in the cellars to transfer the wine from the vats to their precious bottles.

Once at the bottling machine the wine is transferred into a filler that is already inert to prevent oxygenation. Once rinsed with filtered water, the bottles can be filled and sealed.

Two types of fillers are used: one for the standard 75cl format, and another for the larger formats such as magnums. This year, for the first time we are producing four examples of 27 litre bottles, Primats, also known at Goliaths. A rare bottle format that is already arousing curiosity.

Once bottled, the wine will remain in stock for a few months to stabilise before shipping. Only then will it be ready to leave the estate and be delivered to Palmer wine amateurs, who can be found at the château gates and on the other side of the world.

The 2014 vintage is complete at Palmer... but it is starting a new life amongst wine amateurs. 

 

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30.06.2016
1814-2014: 200 YEARS OF HISTORY
Almost two years have passed since the harvest of the 2014 vintage. The vintage will be bottled this month…
Almost two years have passed since the harvest of the 2014 vintage. 
The vintage will be bottled this month, and presents a great opportunity to celebrate 200 years of history at Château Palmer – indeed, this vintage marks the bicentenary of the estate’s acquisition by Charles Palmer.
  
Proud, visionary and under the spell of the charming words of Madame de Gascq, it was at the end of the First Empire that Major General Charles Palmer became the owner of the estate that would bear his name for the next 200 years and beyond. Palmer became well-known among the English court for his military and romantic conquests, and Palmer’s Claret, as it was known, even became a favourite of the future King George IV. 
 
Over the next 30 years, Charles Palmer would bestow upon his estate the foundations of its identity, establishing it as a world apart.
 
Château Palmer will forever be marked by the fateful stagecoach journey to Paris, carrying both the fiery Major General Palmer and the widowed Madame de Gascq. History will preserve his secrets, which come together today to give Château Palmer its rich terroir and unique identity.
 
Château Palmer 2014... 200 years of history, bottled.
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21.06.2016
Floral moment
Spring has arrived, discreetly. The vines are green, the temperature is slowly rising, and a light, delicate and fleeting…
June 2016 - Spring has arrived, discreetly. The vines are green, the temperature is slowly rising, and a light, delicate and fleeting perfume is rising from the different plots. This subtle odour is accompanied by little white flowers that brighten up the vines. It is blossom time.
 
Blossoming generally begins at the end of May or early June, when temperatures rise to around 20ºC, and the vines wake up after their long hibernation and dress up in leaves and the first buds.
 
These buds produce a small white flower that lasts only a few days, some say for only a moment. The quicker the blossoming, the more homogenous the future grapes will be. Which makes this a crucial period before the fruit-set, the pollination of the flower and initial phase of grape formation.
 
The blossoming is a unique, but brief moment, that almost unconsciously prints itself on the memories of winemakers concentrated on their task. Nature wakes up. The vines are reborn. This period, as magnificent as it is delicate, marks a step towards a new vintage. A key stage. A renewal.
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