April 2017 – The season of beauty… Spring continues onward, leaving behind an en primeurs week as intense as it was sunlit. The vineyards seem hushed now, as nature grows and the garden whispers. It’s a return to calm, and a chance to recall the birth of this lovely 2016 vintage.
Some vintages, it seems the entire cycle of life, from bud break to harvest, progresses at the tranquil tempo of exquisite clockwork. Yet it’s when the seasons go offbeat, and vignerons must dig deep to find their rhythm anew, that estates can truly reveal the essence of a grand cru – so it was in 2016.
A winter so mild the Merlot vines budded early, a spring so wet we feared a mildew calamity… 2016 kept our vineyard team on their toes. But they rose to the challenge like great jazz players, who upon hitting an unexpected note, can fold the troublesome tone into a jubilant new melody.
They improvised with gusto and grandeur, until a dry, mellow summer brought a sigh of relief. As autumn neared, the grapes began to don their habitual midnight blue.
Finally, on October 3 began the latest harvest in memory! Yields were modest, unsurprising given the year’s ordeals, but quality was simply stunning. Powerful, perfectly ripe tannins, extraordinary aromatics… sublimating such superior fruit is a cellar team’s raison d’être. Though still maturing, the nascent Palmer and Alter Ego 2016 already boast equilibriums wholly distinct from previous great vintages.
Balancing elegance and depth, their alcohol content is quite typical, yet their tannic structure utterly exceptional. In the end, it’s Palmer’s unmistakeable velvet character which distinguishes these wines as our own, silken proof that in this unexpected vintage, Château Palmer found its rhythm after all.