April 2018 - In the Médoc, it’s often said that “the great terroirs overlook the water”. Last vintage, it saved them, thanks to the shielding powers of the Gironde estuary, meeting place of the Garonne and the Dordogne.
With a significant lack of rainfall and a particularly mild February and March, we’d expected the vines to awaken early from their winter dormancy. Sure enough, starting late March and into the first half of April, the buds began opening amidst optimal growing conditions. Then, during the nights of 27th and 28th April, the Bordeaux region was unfortunately struck by a particularly brutal wave of frost. Thankfully, the river, acting as a veritable thermal buffer, would protect the majority of Château Palmer’s vineyards, being situated on the first gravel rises along the shore. Only a few plots inland to the west would suffer from freezing temperatures.
Finally, late May brought the fine weather which would provide ideal conditions for flowering, and the promise of an excellent harvest. The spring remained quite dry until the month of June. As summer began, it brought several rainy periods which helped us traverse the season in confidence, but would slightly prolong the vegetative growth of the vines. The berries’ colour change would take place on schedule in mid-August. The rains of September then speeded the maturation of the skins. And so, harvest arrived early, with the vendange launching officially on 20th September. First picked were the most beautiful plots of Merlot, soon followed by the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Petit Verdot. By 29th September, the harvest was over.
From the moment vinification began, it became apparent that the conditions of the vintage, coupled by the respectful vineyard management methods we’d used to safeguard the terroir, would allow us to enjoy a great clarity of expression from our plots. For the very first time, the final blends of both wines were almost finished before the beginning of the malolactic fermentation.
Today, the 2017 vintage at Château Palmer is precise, without excess. The wines exhibit the elegant balance of our most classic vintages. Their velvety tannins and aromatic depth are promises of splendid ageing potential.