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Palmer & you

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Paul Cupido

Photographer
The Netherlands
There is no greater challenge for a photographer than to archive the invisible.
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Paul Cupido artwork
NEWS

PASSING THE TORCH - PART 2

The estate was divided into five "islands" four years ago and the teams rediscover their distinct plots each season.

The estate was divided into five "islands" four years ago and the teams rediscover their distinct plots each season, mastering them with time, experience and ever-deeper roots.

 

Le Cassena

This singular island nestled two miles from the château is bordered by a forest and scattered with fruit trees. This is the estate's "most varied" ensemble, featuring four varieties of white grapes alongside the reds. These vigorous vines each require specific pruning and treatment. Debudding is one particularly delicate stage, consisting of cutting off a vast number of excess branches, often "as thick as Christmas trees," says Franck, to give an idea of the scale of the task. This valiant Médoc native can count on Isabelle, a former pre-school assistant, who is as skilled at growing vines as she was at raising children. Christine completes this trio, and received twenty roses from the director, in person, to celebrate her twentieth year with the estate last February. All three are unwaveringly loyal to the earth and have a truly extraordinary work ethic.

 

Le Plateau

These are the oldest vines, lying closest to the estuary and offering the finest wines. The Plateau des Brauzes is also the "cleanest" island, according to the winegrowers, meaning it is a well-known, tamed terroir. It serves as the estate's memory, located just behind the château where the sun rises and the Merlots shine. Aurélie, a former carpenter who is now proud to work with wood's very roots, heads up an enthusiastic team. Every year, they are delighted to "rediscover the same plots" and eager to experiment with new techniques. On plot 46, for example, the number of vine stocks has doubled to reach 20,000 feet per hectare. Meanwhile, on plot 16, the vines are being pruned higher this year and trellised up to six feet. The objective is to develop a better understanding of the ecosystem and work tirelessly to make the vines more resilient and robust. Both a calling and an exultation.

 

Domec

Driss is one of the guardians of the estate. When he has finished working on the Merlot or Cabernet vines of the Domec island — a total of thirteen hectares between the cellar and the Route des Vins — he sleeps in the village, watches over the château, feeds the animals, and sometimes even helps deliver a calf or a lamb, accompanied by his wife and their three children. "Perfectionism" is his philosophy, because "it pays off." "A profound knowledge of the vines makes our job easier," says Émilie. "We see the results of our work from one year to the next." The winegrower chose Château Palmer for "its pioneering spirit," "the absence of pesticides," and its biodynamic approach. Vintage after vintage, the five members of the team watch with satisfaction as "the plant learns to stand on its own two feet." The winegrower provides the impetus, and nature follows.

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Winegrowers working in the vineyard with Château Palmer in the background
NEWS

2021, time and moderation

The year 2021 is a vintage in which the talents of a diverse and determined team have made the difference.

While January initially heralded a cold winter, February promised kinder temperatures and nourishing rains. The return to dry weather fostered consistent budding across the vines. Having been efficiently contained by the teams, the spring frosts – black from April 6 to 8; white in mid-April and early May – slowed growth. Flowering eventually began on May 28, two weeks later than in 2020, in a warm, dry climate. The fruit set accelerated, and a handful of our most earliest ripening Merlots were affected by coulure.

Rainfall was followed by a sharp rise in temperatures in June, leading to explosive vegetative growth. Shortly after a torrential storm on June 19, the arrival of mildew required meticulous monitoring until the end of the ripening period. A half-hearted summer until August 15 exacerbated vine growth, sparking fears of low numbers of grapes. In late August and early September, four weeks of dry weather thankfully dispelled a lot of the water and the ripening process resumed as normal, just in time for the harvest.

Threatened by botrytis, the Merlot harvest started on September 24 while the Cabernets finished on October 15. Despite more modest yields than expected, the harvest was healthy with ripe grapes, and the tasting revealed a remarkably fine tannic texture. The assemblages were finalised in early December, reflecting an ever-clearer perspective of the Château Palmer plots. This 2021 batch offers exceptionally fulfilled wines, rooted in moderation and harmony, harking back to the vintages of the previous century.

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Château Palmer 2021 En Primeur
News

Nature at work

Spring is never short on surprises. On sudden appearances.

Spring is never short on surprises. On sudden appearances. While the final jobs are being completed (acanage, pliage), the sap awakens and the vine transforms. This is “winter’s dreams told at the table of angels,” to quote the poet Khalil Gibran. The first buds emerge under their fine down; a “budding” period both miraculous and at the mercy of climatic whims.

 

These are “weeks that count twice as much,” says Sabrina Pernet, the technical director of Château Palmer. The early April frosts forced the teams to be tirelessly vigilant, tending gently to the Merlots with candles and wind turbines. Since then, the winemakers have coddled the buds, spraying valerian and essential oil of Helichrysum to strengthen the branches until the blossoms arrive. The ingenuity of the earth reclaims its rightful place while the spring breeze warms our hearts.

 

The next few days will see the arrival of green shoots of Cabernet Sauvignon and the new vintage will be revealed to early buyers, complete with its promise of aromatic freshness and supple tannins. Blooms and resurrection; the unstoppable dance of the seasons, true to itself and different every year, ends the long winter’s night with a promise of radiant days to come.

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Château Palmer vines
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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"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