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2021, CONVERGENT FORCES - PART 1

The Château Palmer grape harvest gives the impression of a gentle sprint, a controlled frenzy.

      The Château Palmer grape harvest gives the impression of a gentle sprint, a controlled frenzy. Each person knows their role by their heart, making timely adjustments and reacting calmly in the face of unpredictable weather. And indeed, the expected — or rather dreaded — late-September rains lived up to the term "precipitation" in every sense of the word. These downpours kicked off the spectacle: the harvest of the 2021 vintage began three days early, on Friday, September 24, and ended in the second week of October after a marathon that proved to be more relaxed than expected. The solemn, heart-warming culmination of an intense year and a gloomy summer. 

      "It's a happy time for us," says Driss, a winemaker and groundskeeper on the estate. The rest of the year, we work in separate teams. The harvest is when we all come together to take part in the grand finale." Some 15 winemakers are working around him: the "cutters," red secateurs in hand, remove plump bunches of Merlot from the vines, alternating with the "porters" who, with crates harnessed to their backs, march back and forth between the vine stock and the truck. Château Palmer's permanent staff get to know the seasonal workers, including Carmen, who has travelled from the town of Gradignan with her son, or joke around with the apprentices, such as Isabella, accompanied by her dogs. Here, separating the grapes from each plot is as important as uniting those who harvest them. Fruit is divided; people are mixed together.

      A few feet away, a group task is being completed by 16 refugees, including Abdil Basir, a former taxi driver from Afghanistan who arrived in France in 2019, and Abdul, originally from Sudan. "Some of them are eager to keep working on the vines after the harvest," says Stéphanie, wearing a blue Château Palmer "Vintage 2021" T-shirt. She and Émilie are also supervising a group from the local youth career centre, comprised of young adults from 16 to 25. For many of them, this is their first professional experience. "They get off the coach on the first day as if they were arriving at a holiday camp," say the two winemakers. "Then they discover the connection with nature and the rigor of our work. Guiding them takes a lot of energy and you have to really make yourself heard, but it's a fulfilling experience. We are team leaders, canteen staff and social workers all at once!"

      A little further on, in the midst of the vines, three other figures are choreographing this autumnal dance: Thomas Duroux, director of Château Palmer, Sabrina Pernet, technical director, and Oriane Heuillet, head of research and development. Every day, these pillars of the estate scour the vineyard, smelling and tasting the grapes, comparing and deciding which plots to harvest first. Number 38, for example, can wait until Saturday, while number 70's clusters of Petit Verdot must be picked as soon as possible - and "gently," insists Sabrina, relaying instructions over the phone.

      After a challenging year marred by a lack of sunshine, spring frosts, and persistent mildew, the trio seems to be reassured by their mobile tasting-session. "The tannins in this plot are fantastic," says Thomas Duroux, who is predicting "wines that might just surprise us."

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vendanges 2021
NEWS

Château Palmer 2011 A preciously kept secret

Château Palmer extends an invitation to all great wine lovers for 2011’s market re-entry, this Thursday September 23rd. After ten years of silent evolution in the property’s cellars, Château Palmer 2011 is ready to arise from its reserve: a rare, singular and powerful vintage, most surely magnified over time.

Château Palmer extends an invitation to all great wine lovers for 2011’s market re-entry, this Thursday September 23rd. After ten years of silent evolution in the property’s cellars, Château Palmer 2011 is ready to arise from its reserve: a rare, singular and powerful vintage, most surely magnified over time.

A rare vintage

Half a century after the legendary 1961 vintage, Château Palmer 2011 distinguishes itself with its very low yields: twenty hectolitres per hectare, a historic low in its time. Blame goes to a hostile month of June, inflicting on the vineyard, both hail and heatwaves, one after another. The result? A concentration as beautiful as it is unexpected, full of great potential right from the start.

A unique vintage

Truly atypical for the left bank, Château Palmer 2011 breaks free from the vintage’s solar and precocious branding to entrench itself in its terroir, matching frank acidity with extremely precise tannins. Forty years after the misunderstood 1971, an unexpected miracle of grace and balance, it has joined the shortlist of unique wines that arise from the ordinary despite complicated conditions.

A powerful vintage

An aesthetic and powerful wine, perfect for keeping, Château Palmer 2011 is currently emerging from its reserve phase, ready to reveal its prime characteristics. Its distinctive velvetiness, draped in a fleshy and generous structure, deploys notes of fresh spices and precious wood that resonate with force. From the height of this first ten year peak, this promising 2011 has not finished its evolution ...

"An atypical great wine on the Bordeaux scale, Château Palmer 2011 breaks free from the vintage’s brand to entrench itself in its terroir. Undeniably, a prominent wine in the Palmer’s history... "

Thomas Duroux, Director of Château Palmer

Since 2010, Château Palmer has preciously kept a large part of its production in the property’s historic cellar. If the Primeurs week, which traditionally takes place in Bordeaux in the spring, remains the perfect opportunity to present young, delicate wines waiting to be kept, Palmer thus inaugurates in 2020 a new concept: the second and last market re-entry, after ten years of meticulous vigilance at the château, a vintage ready to be tasted.

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Château Palmer 2011
News

2020, A Delightful Paradox

Sunny Merlot, fine and powerful Cabernet, and a terroir of brilliant clarity.

April 2021 - In the wake of an extraordinary 2018 and a 2019 of profound elegance, the 2020 vintage of Château Palmer, with its class and sensuality, rounds off a truly exceptional trilogy.

Sun-kissed and harmonious wines

At the end of February, the onset of the vines’ budburst almost two weeks ahead of schedule signalled the launch of what would be a very early vintage. March brought heavy rainfall, which made working the soil considerably more difficult, only to be followed by a damp spring with mild temperatures, conditions all too conducive to the spread of mildew. Throughout April and May, the vineyard would require superlative care to keep us on course for a healthy harvest. In mid-May, a return to warm, dry weather would set the stage for an ideal flowering period, raising hopes of a lovely vintage indeed.

 
In June, the summer weather arrived and settled in to stay. By the end of July, the berries had begun their colour change under a bright and constant sun, allowing for an early synthesis of polyphenols. Although the heat waves of August subjected the vines to a good deal of hydric stress, intense thunderstorms brought a welcome breath of fresh air: the Merlot grapes gorged themselves while the Cabernet, which weren’t as far along in their cycle, retained their small size. The return to dry weather at the end of August fostered the concentration of the tannins and marked a promising conclusion to the ripening process.
 
The harvest began on the 15th of September, with the Merlot picked in the cool of dawn and the Cabernet gathered between the drops of thundershowers. The harvest ended two weeks later on the 29th of September. In the vat room, the fermentations proceeded smoothly and the blending was carried out over two sessions in mid-November, for the most part during the run-off. Marked by the year’s eminently favourable climate, the 2020 vintage of Château Palmer is on par with 2018 in terms of structure, boasting sunny Merlot, fine and powerful Cabernet, and a terroir of brilliant clarity.
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Château Palmer 2020
The Tasting Room

CHÂTEAU PALMER & ITS ALTER EGO

Château Palmer’s wines. Its words. Different expressions of a single terroir, born of a common philosophy. Homages to a natural environment and to the traditions of an estate, over time they begin to resonate. Not with power, but with finesse, with elegance. With age, grand crus, the words of Château Palmer, take on ever greater meaning.

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Encounter

Théo Ceccaldi

Musicien
Paris
The Jazz violinist Théo Ceccaldi passionately followed the development of the 2019 vintage. His creative residency at Château Palmer is soon to give birth to a limited edition vinyl.
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"No vintage resembles the one before. This forces us to constantly question our practices, and prevents us from developing any automatisms. Our only guide is our palate."

Pierre-Baptiste Cormery, Cellar Worker, Château Palmer