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12.08.2019
Blending and composing
The cellar master and his team are the composers of the Château Palmer wines. They conduct the various...

August 2019 - The cellar master and his team are the composers of the Château Palmer wines. They conduct the various stages of winemaking to showcase the wine's complexity and balance. In particular, they combine, or in other words, blend, several lots of grapes. 

The wines of each vintage are blended twice to achieve an ideal balance.

A few months after the harvest and before the en primeur tastings, the first blend is made, and our two wines are hereby created: Château Palmer and Alter Ego.

Each batch is put in barrel following fermentation. Ageing begins, during which each batch is tasted regularly to help us decide on the final blend. The winemakers choose the ideal proportions for the powerful and well-structured Château Palmer, and for the more spontaneous and fruity Alter Ego. Both wines feature a smooth, delicate structure, which is emblematic of the estate.

The wines are blended for the second time before bottling, i.e. after 20 to 22 months of barrel ageing. The aim is to produce homogeneous wines, that will then be put in vats again.

The team finished blending the 2017 vintage over the last few weeks, thus concluding the winemaking process. 

Like a score, the notes combine in harmony to create a beautiful piece of music. Composing has now come to an end, leaving room for endless interpretations when these bottles will be shared and enjoyed.

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11.06.2019
Floral interlude
The time has come again for a floral interlude in the vines at Château Palmer. As the flower buds disappear...

June 2019 – The time has come again for a floral interlude in the vines at Château Palmer. As the flower buds disappear, grape blossoms are discretely revealing themselves throughout the vine rows. Their perfume wafts through the air almost imperceptibly, so subtle and delicate are the aromas.

Though the flowering period is generally brief, spanning between 8 and 10 days, it is one of the most important stages in a vine’s life cycle. As hermaphroditic plants, simultaneously possessing both male and female reproductive organs, vine flowers pollinate each other: sometimes within the same flower, often between flowers of the same bunch, sometimes between bunches on the same vine, and sometimes even between neighbouring vines, with help from various species of insects and birds.

While carrying out the work of desuckering the vines, the vignerons and vigneronnes of Château Palmer become spectators of this natural evolution. Perfect weather conditions are necessary at the moment of flowering: sunny, dry and hot, between 18 and 25 ºC. Only then do the flowerhoods delicately open to reveal the pistils and stamens. Afterwards, the flowers will gradually disappear, giving birth to a multitude of tiny berries. However, should weather conditions be changing and less favourable, they can bring about flower abortion or couluring, causing an imperfect pollination of certain flowers.

The quality of flowering will be a first indication of the potential size of the coming harvest. Of course, this estimation isn’t set in stone, for the growth cycle of the vines continues. But today, this floral expression comes as a great bouquet of hope for Château Palmer... even if there’s still a way to go yet before the 2019 vintage is harvested!

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29.04.2019
2018, the unprecedented vintage
From dread at first, to delight at last!

April 2019 - From dread at first, to delight at last! From December to March, it rained cats and dogs on the Médoc, saturating and chilling the soil. Naturally, the buds were in no hurry to show their faces. Spring arrived, but the rain continued, falling incessantly amidst unseasonably cool temperatures. Despite the considerable care and attention of our teams, it was only a matter of time before mildew moved into the vine rows. The vines’ defences were tested to the extreme. Our vignerons blanketed them with care, tending to each plant with herbal teas and Bordeaux mixture, and thinning their leaves to keep the grapes aerated.
 
And then a miracle occurred. Summer arrived in all its glory – hot, dry, and restorative. Come the first week of August, the berries began their colour change. All summer long, they bathed in perfect sunlight while enjoying cool nights and not a drop of rain. As the vines concentrated all their energy into the surviving bunches, a glow of rebirth spread through the rows.
 
What resulted was a level of tannic and aromatic concentration in the grapes that has rarely been seen in the history of the estate. Daily tastings during the vinifications confirmed the incredible potential of the harvest. The extraordinary power of every lot of juice brought us to make an unprecedented decision: they would practically all be incorporated into the final blend of a truly exceptional Château Palmer, and there would be no Alter Ego this year.
 
In the constellation of the great vintages of Château Palmer, 2018 already shines with singular splendour.

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01.03.2019
Final months of maturation for the 2017 vintage
The 2017 vintage continues its maturation in barrels in the historic chai des Marronniers barrel cellar.

March 2019 - The 2017 vintage continues its maturation in barrels in the historic chai des Marronniers barrel cellar. One year after the final blending, the wine slowly refines in the darkness of the cellar, and in the precision hands of our technicians. 

During the final months of maturation, the wine requires, among other things, two important procedures: le collage, or fining, and la levée de colle, or post-fining racking

Fining a wine simply entails adding egg white to it. Naturally binding with the fine suspended particles remaining, it gathers them into a heavier mass which will settle to the bottom of the barrel over time. The final, post-fining racking, or levée de colle, will allow us to separate the wine, which will have become clearer and more brilliant, from the lees or the deposit left at the bottom of the barrel.

As at every stage, our taste buds will be our guides. To be able to determine the right level of fining needed by the wine, we carry out tests beforehand, using between 0 and 5 egg whites per barrel. Afterwards, we taste again and retain the level of fining that we’ve determined will sublimate the wine.

Today, the cellar is entirely focused on this final racking operation, the last step before the wine is bottled this summer. To delicately separate the clear wine from its lees, we use the ancestral method of levée de colle à la bougie – by candlelight. The wine flows out of the barrel, illuminated by the glowing flame, and as soon as the slightest haze begins to disturb the radiance highlighted by the candle, we stop. The wine is then clear, with a beautiful, lustrous sheen.

 

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25.02.2019
Hear Palmer, 10 vintages of Jazz
This year, Hear Palmer 2018 will mark the event’s 10th edition. Since 2010, wine and jazz go hand in hand at Château Palmer.

This year, Hear Palmer 2018 will mark the event’s 10th edition. Since 2010, wine and jazz go hand in hand at Château Palmer. The wines of the estate are not only tasted but heard, unveiled through the notes of great jazzmen.

Hear Palmer was born of a meeting between Jacky Terrasson, a famous French-American jazz pianist, and Thomas Duroux, managing director of Château Palmer. The idea of collaborating together came naturally for the two men, for a delicious dialogue of complexity and spontaneity exists between Château Palmer and Jazz. At once universal and mysterious, they both flirt between rigour and improvisation. From this blend of passions, wine for the one and jazz for the other, Hear Palmer was created. It took the form of a unique concert, held in the château, and resonating with a particular meaning – an expression in music of the 2009 vintage, the first in a long list of interpretations.

The 2010 vintage would then be interpreted by Yaron Herman and Michel Portal in the chai des Marronniers, the estate’s historic barrel cellar. Next came the 2011 vintage by the trio AIR, composed of Giovanni Mirabassi, Flavio Boltro and Glenn Ferris, once again within the walls of the château. Afterwards came the Lionel Belmondo trio to unveil the 2012 vintage. The 2013 vintage was set to music by the Daniel Humair Quartet, of which the saxophonist is none other than Émile Parisien. A beautiful concert, performed in the vast chai des Jasmins barrel cellar. As for the 2014 vintage, it would mark with an historic date for Château Palmer: that of our 200th anniversary, when we remembered the day two centuries earlier when the Major-General Charles Palmer bought the estate from the widow De Gascq. A watershed moment, celebrated by the Christophe Dal Sasso Big Band. Thomas Enhco and Dan Tepfer would improvise on the 2015 vintage, and Archie Shepp would shake the chai des Jasmins with his Quartet, unveiling the 2016 vintage in the year of his 80th birthday! Finally, the 2017 vintage was expressed in the notes of the Einar Scheving Quartet, an Icelandic group. 

As many interpretations as there are vintages. Revelations in music, of which the next expression will be the 2018 vintage…

This 10th edition of Hear Palmer represents an opportunity to offer a new, original format, of not one, but three concerts. The philosophy of the event remains unaltered: an artist is invited to express his vision, his understanding and his emotions about the new vintage of Château Palmer – he becomes its patron and its voice.

This year, it’s Émile Parisien who will once again recount, in music, the estate’s new vintage, but this time he’s been given carte blanche to imagine and present a programme of three concerts in three symbolic locations… with the first to be held in the château. A lovely echo of that very first concert given by Jacky Terrasson.

Hear Palmer 2018 :

29th March 2019 at Château Palmer, Duo Metanuits, Émile Parisien & Roberto Negro (private concert) –La révélation

30th March 2019 at Le Rocher de Palmer, at 20:30, Émile Parisien Sfumato & his friends – L’assemblage

31st March 2019 at La Cité du Vin, 18:00, Carte blanche for Émile Parisien – La finale

For more information visit hear-palmer.com/en

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Hear Palmer and Qobuz offer some high quality music: from the 5th of April to the 5th of May, the live concerts will be available on free download on: www.qobuz.com/hearpalmer-uk

 

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20.12.2018
The Great Garden
What if we took the time to see our surroundings, to look, to understand, to contemplate? Each living thing grows...

December 2018 – What if we took the time to see our surroundings, to look, to understand, to contemplate? Each living thing grows in an environment which corresponds to it, shelters it, nourishes it and makes it grow. One of the fundamental principals of biodynamics is to view each element of life as part of an interconnected whole. These elements form an environment which is plural, virtuous and autonomous. Seen in this light, a grapevine does not exist on its own. Rather, we should consider it as part of an ensemble: the soil, the water, the plants, the animals, the insects… the cosmos.

As one strolls though the vineyards, one the first elements that we notice is the ocean – an ocean not of salt water, but of chlorophyll. The green of vine leaves, slowly changing colours with the seasons and stretching to the horizon, as far as the eye can see. Yet the richness of an environment lies in its complexity. An observation which inspired a desire at Château Palmer to enhance the estate with relief and forms, to strengthen its identity. And so we launched a plantation project of new trees and hedges, including native and heritage varieties. In selecting the plants, we had to take into consideration their effect on both the balance between pests and predators and the structure of the landscape.

Enlisting the aid of an entomologist – a scientist specialised in insects – we undertook a study of the minuscule life inside our vine parcels. The harmony of a vineyard depends on the complex equilibriums that exist between species, notably between pests (harmful to the vines) and predators (which feed on pests). The objective was therefore to plant trees and hedges that would be beneficial to the predators' habitat and their ability to feed and reproduce, and in so doing, protect the grapevines. We then conducted a study with France’s league for the protection of birds (LPO), which provided us precious insights into these animals and their benefits for the vineyard. In fact, bats are also ideal allies, notably against the grape caterpillars that spread the dreaded grey mould. By planting trees in the parcels, such as the fruit trees planted in our Cassena parcels, we provide bats with reference points and shelter, thus allowing them to adopt the vineyard as a hunting ground.

This diversity of flora and fauna nourishes the estate and enriches it. It makes the vineyard environment more balanced and interdependent. Resilient. More than 2500 trees and hedges later, we continue this reorganisation of land and space. This year, around twenty additional trees will be planted in the parcels. The vines are not alone; they communicate, exchange and interact with other species. The vineyard has been reimagined. It is becoming a garden, great and multiform.

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13.12.2018
Guy Le Querrec exhibits “Jazz de J à ZZ”
At Château Palmer, 2019 will be the year of jazz, marked by the 10th edition of our annual concert, Hear Palmer.

December 2018 - At Château Palmer, 2019 will be the year of jazz, marked by the 10th edition of our annual concert, Hear Palmer. A fine opportunity to celebrate the work of Guy Le Querrec, with the exhibition “Jazz de J à ZZ”, presented from 19 January to 19 August 2019 at Château Palmer.
 
A member of the Magnum photo agency since 1976, this Parisian photographer with roots in Brittany has a passion for images dating back to his earliest days. Following in the footsteps of so many he admires – Marc Riboud, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sergio Larrain – he travelled the world, producing landmark photo reportages.
 
In the life and oeuvre of Guy Le Querrec, music holds a special place. In turning his gaze often and freely across this universe, he has created some of the most celebrated snapshots of the 20th century, becoming internationally renowned for photographing the greatest living figures in jazz.
 
“Jazz – my ears, my heart, my emotions need it. Its cadences, its rhythms... And then there’s that crucial word: to practice a photography of improvisation.”
 
Documenting the lives of musicians through the decades, he also created his own shows, from “De l’eau dans le jazz” in 1983 to “Jazz comme une image” in 1993, during which images on a giant screen scrolled by, set to music played by a live jazz quartet composed of Michel Portal, Louis Sclavis, Henri Texier and Jean-Pierre Drouet. In 2011, he was invited to photograph Michel Portal and Yaron Herman during the second edition of Hear Palmer, held in the estate’s barrel cellar. This meeting marked the beginning of a lasting friendship between the photographer and Château Palmer.
 
“I seek to recount the lives of musicians, their voyages, their fatigue, their joys, their practice sessions, their solitude, their hopes.”
 
Guy Le Querrec, with modesty and generosity, infiltrates the lives of artists to capture a silence, a secret, a note… a pulse.
 
Archie Shepp, famous for the warm, lyrical sounds of his tenor, strolling through the streets of Paris; John Coltrane, this giant of the saxophone, hypnotising us from behind a simple television screen… Each image, taken in the heat of the moment by a master of rhythm, improvisation, and imagination, challenges the viewer in its own way.
 
The exhibition “Jazz de J à ZZ” by Guy Le Querrec may be seen during estate visits to Château Palmer, from 19 January to 19 August 2019. Length: 2 ½ hours - 70€ - Reservations by e-mail: chateau-palmer@chateau-palmer.com

 

Miles Davis (trumpet). Concert by the Miles Davis Quintet with Wayne Shorter (ts), Chick Corea (p, keyboard), Dave Holland (b), Jack DeJohnette (dms). Paris Jazz Festival. Salle Pleyel, Paris. Tuesday 4 November 1969 ©Guy Le Querrec/ Magnum Photos

Archie Shepp, Paris, France, 9 november 1983 ©Guy Le Querrec/ Magnum Photos

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22.11.2018
An Animal Story
Day after day, the men and women of Château Palmer listen to their terroir, work the soil, care for the grapevines, and,...

November 2018 – Day after day, the men and women of Château Palmer listen to their terroir, work the soil, care for the grapevines, and age their wine, ever working to see the estate flourish. And today, they can count on a few extra workmates… cows, sheep and goats (overseen by our shepherdess and cowherd, Emilie and Pierre) who contribute in equal measure to the health and resilience of the vineyards.

Bit by bit, the estate has recentered itself around cultivating life in its myriad forms. A self-sufficient farm, whose production of riches depends on the organisms of which it is comprised: the vine, the plants, the hedges, the fruit trees, the wildflowers, the animals, the insects… in sum, a virtuous circle.

Our Bordelaise cows have been among our leading actors within this agricultural organism. They graze our meadows, and enable us to produce a rich, high quality, ‘homemade’ compost, thanks to the manure they produce which is mixed with mulched vine shoots and green waste from the garden. It’s thanks to them that we can create our own biodynamic preparations as well, such as the 500. This enriches the soil with beneficial microorganisms that help nourish the vines. Today, our herd includes a dozen cattle, though it has grown since last month with the birth of three calves – Orlaya, Ombelle and Orchidée.

With the help of two shepherds, the winter maintenance of the vineyards is undertaken by a herd of more than a hundred sheep. From November to March, they roam the parcels, graze on the tender grass around the vine trunks, while fertilising the soil along the way, and heeding the sharp commands of our sheep dogs, Ben and Hip-hop. The rest of the year, Pyrénées goats will come and take over for our Landaise sheep, notably to maintain the edges of the vine parcels.

The development of these herds of cattle, sheep and goats has been carried out in close collaboration with the Conservatoire des Races d’Aquitaine, which works for the preservation of livestock breeds. It’s a project in spirit with this place and this era, as it involves working with local heritage breeds adapted perfectly to the estate and the environment, and is a way for us to help ensure the survival of these breeds in danger of extinction. It must be said, Château Palmer is in good hands – and in good hooves!
 

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03.10.2018
A Matter of Taste
Early morning. The sun rises slowly over the vineyard, painting the sky in a vibrant red, melting into shades of orange...

September 2018 – Early morning. The sun rises slowly over the vineyard, painting the sky in a vibrant red, melting into shades of orange, then pale pink. This delicate light washes over the estate now. As the dew begins to slowly disappear under the morning sun, Thomas, Sabrina and Sylvain roam the vineyard, tasting.

September is an intense month on the estate, since it generally brings the beginning of harvest. This year, the harvest began September 13th with the parcels of young Merlot. And since the beginning of the month, every morning the technical team has tasted the berries to keep track of the grapes’ maturity levels. They walk the vine rows of every parcel, picking berries here and there, analysing the flavours and smoothness of tannins in the skins and seeds.

Tasting grapes is an art unto itself. It’s the first step towards truly distinguishing the similarities and differences between parcels. It’s the moment when we begin to group the grapes, and even to blend them, if only at first in our minds. Some will reach maturity earlier, revealing themselves before the others. Eventually, this entire puzzle of parcels will be sorted through.

These daily tasting walks allow us to evaluate three types of grape maturity: technological maturity, which reflects the balance of sugar and acidity, aromatic maturity which indicates the aromatic style of the vintage, and finally phenolic maturity, which allows us to judge the quality of the tannins and overall structure.

We seek the moment when these three types of maturity are in sync, so that only the most promising grapes enter the vats. Each vintage is different, unique, and to best respect its style, the decision of whether to harvest or wait must entail a very subtle equation indeed. Each day matters. It’s a countdown whose sum provides the first score of the vintage.

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05.09.2018
“Les Américains”
With harvest time fast approaching, the work of green pruning is reaching its end. This extended viticultural period...

September 2018 - With harvest time fast approaching, the work of green pruning is reaching its end. This extended viticultural period encompasses three main tasks: raising the support wires, removing secondary shoots and desuckering. Desuckering is the art of removing non-fruit-bearing shoots growing directly on the trunk of the vine. This helps the vine to concentrate its energy in the fruit-bearing branches, those which will carry grapes. As for removing secondary shoots (or épamprage), this is done throughout the green pruning period. But there is one form of this task which is specific to the late summer season. “Nous terminons les américains” (We’re finishing the Americans) – so will the vignerons describe this other type of épamprage. Behind this rather odd expression hides an interesting story…

Vitis Vinifera is the principal species of grapevine historically cultivated in Europe, and includes such well-known varietals as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Until the 19th century, it was always planted “franche de pied”, meaning simply that it possessed its own root system. It was a vine that could weather anything. Anything, that is, except the disease of the century: phylloxera, a little sap-sucking aphid which feeds on a vine’s roots, resulting in deformations which gradually cut off the flow of nutrients and water, killing the vine. So it was that, starting in the 1860s, entire vineyard regions throughout France and Europe were destroyed, all because of this devastating little insect.
 
There are several theories regarding the origins of the phylloxera epidemic, and how it came to proliferate throughout our terroirs. The most widely accepted theory concerns the New World. As the world economy was rapidly developing in the 19th century, the increase in transatlantic exchanges and the decrease in the time necessary to traverse the ocean led to the arrival in Europe of phylloxera, a species hitherto unknown here.

Another theory, more prevalent in biodynamic circles, postulates on the contrary that this aphid has always been present here, and that Vitis Vinifera simply lost its natural capacity to resist it. The rationalisation of viticulture, the depletion of grape varietal diversity, and the shift to systematic propagation by root cuttings would be, among other factors, responsible.

To renew Europe’s vineyards, wine growers came up with the idea of employing a practice already common in arboriculture at the time: grafting. Grape varietals of the Vitis Vinifera species were thus grafted onto other species of Vitis from America, such as Vitis Rupestris or Vitis Berlandieri, which are resistant to phylloxera.

“Faire les américains”, signifies cutting the non-fruit-bearing shoots growing on the rootstock, that is to say the “American” part of the vine, which prevents the grafted Vitis Vinifera vine from being rejected by its host. This specific type of épamprage, carried out across the entire vineyard, constitutes a long and painstaking task. On average, the job entails pruning 600 vine plants per hour and per person. Enough to keep everyone busy until the harvest…

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