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29.05.2020
2019, the school of nature
While January was marked by a few days of extreme cold, the rest of the winter proved relatively mild.

May 2020 - While January was marked by a few days of extreme cold, the rest of the winter proved relatively mild. Throughout the season rainfall was moderate but sufficient to partially replenish essential reserves in our soils. The vines’ bud burst began almost a week ahead of schedule, but would progress thereafter in a smooth and even manner. The spring that followed was cool and rainy, requiring a high degree of precision in our management of the vineyard. Despite the capricious weather, flowering unfolded without difficulties, fuelling hopes of a bountiful harvest.

Then, at the end of June, the weather conditions would change radically. A lasting period of hot and dry weather set in. Two heat waves between the 26th and 27th of June and the 22nd and 25th of July were fortunately endured without consequence. The limited summer rainfall – 50 mm between July and August – fostered the accumulation of polyphenols in the berries. The grapes underwent their colour change in excellent conditions and by mid-August the prospect of a fine vintage was clear. We began harvesting the Merlot on the 19th of September amidst weather conditions close to those of summer. The berries were concentrated, aromatic and loaded with sugar. The harvest continued and we entered the autumn under fine, steady rain- fall which lowered the potential alcohol of the Cabernet Sauvignon. By the 11th of October the harvest was complete.

A Palmer wine remains the intimate reflection of a mosaic of terroirs specific to this beautiful estate. But it is also the expression of a unique combination of fleshy Merlots and silky Cabernets, complete with a touch of Petit Verdot. In 2019, the Merlots enjoyed dry and sunny weather conditions up to the very end, giving rise to wines full of power, exuberance and flesh. The Cabernets, harvested after the scattered rains of late September, would develop a certain coolness and reserve, to produce wines of rare distinction. The Petit Verdots, for their part, would exhibit remarkable finesse.

Today, both Château Palmer and Alter Ego express a purity and aromatic clarity rarely seen in an abundant vintage. These wines don’t lie; they are remarkably true to the terroir of Château Palmer. And are already part of the rarefied circle of exceptional vintages.

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27.01.2020
ARCTIC - photographs by Jean Gaumy
From January 6th through to April 24th 2020, Château Palmer hosts the exhibition “Arctic” by Jean Gaumy ...

From January 6th through to April 24th 2020, Château Palmer will host the exhibition “Arctique” by the photographer, Jean Gaumy. The Frenchman, a member of Magnum Photos and elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2016, will present a selection of his photographs, taken during his recent scientific assignments to the North Pole. He gives one a unique vision of a fascinating area, well beyond the Arctic Circle, highlighting the same environmental concerns as those of Château Palmer. This exhibition was an obvious choice at the start of a year favourable to research and rich in discoveries.

We already knew about the Aquitaine photographer’s passion for enclosed areas, whether it be that of a hospital, a prison – in 1976, he was the first photojournalist to be permitted into a French prison or nuclear deterrent submarines. Hailed by Raymond Depardon and Marc Riboud, his first reports allowed him to join the agency, Gamma, before integrating Magnum’s team in 1977. Since then, Jean Gaumy has continued to expand the scope of his curiosity and his field of intervention: Iran, Central America, the contaminated territories of Chernobyl and Fukushima, the ocean waves aboard trawler boats, the high cliffs of Normandy…

Doubly rewarded with the Nadar Prize (2002, 2010) and elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France, in 2016, the photographer, on this occasion, roamed across Arctic landscapes shooting sumptuously magnetic compositions of flowing or frozen matter in primitive settings. Beyond his use of loose framing, one can feel his “decisive instinct” and, for a number of years now, his troubled reflection concerning Earth’s fate.

Global warming is three times more perceptible at the poles than on the rest of the planet. Since, 2013, Jean Gaumy has regularly accompanied oceanographers, from the BeBEST/LEMAR laboratory (CNRS, UBO, Natural History Museum), who study the impact of environmental changes on shellfish. He collects real life proof, searches for the mirage of ancient times and immortalises the threatened landscapes. From the Svalbard Archipelago (Norway) to the Daneborg base (Greenland), he voices his desire to “capture the genesis of the world” by pushing the “limits of photography”. The account of this northern immersion, right at the heart of the subject, quite naturally finds its place at Château Palmer, which shares the same desire to promote a territory’s footprint and to defend biodiversity, the same fascination for the “terra incognita” and a sense of adventure as well as the same conviction that art must serve nature.

The exhibition Arctique by Jean Gaumy may be seen during estate visits to Château Palmer, from January 6th through to April 24th 2020. Length: 2 ½ hours - 70€ - Reservations by e-mail: chateau-palmer@chateau-palmer.com

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13.11.2019
The 2019 Harvest: An Encounter with Théo Ceccaldi
The score for the 2019 vintage is written, the harvest has ended and given way to vinifications.

October 2019 — The score for the 2019 vintage is written, the harvest has ended and given way to vinifications. On the 8th of October, Théo Ceccaldi – who will unveil the new vintage with a jazz concert this spring – came to draw his first inspirations at Château Palmer. With Thomas Duroux as his guide, this day of harvesting and discovery at the estate allowed him to experience the birth of the vintage that he will be interpreting next March.

Afterwards, he shared with us his first impressions.

Listen to Théo Ceccaldi's harvest playlist:

 

Listen to the playlist

 

Interview

Palmer: You were among the artists invited for the 10th edition of Hear Palmer to accompany Émile Parisien during his concert at Le Rocher de Palmer. But you didn’t have a chance to visit the estate?

Théo Ceccaldi: No, I went directly to Rocher de Palmer for the concert. I’d only come over for the day because I was on tour at the time. So I never had the chance to discover Château Palmer. Here, what’s cool has been having this time to really be steeped in the history of this cuvée. My experience last year was more stressful… For me, this 2019 cuvée is a bit like a rebirth.

P: It sounds like you’re already looking forward to unveiling this 2019 vintage.

T.C.: Absolutely, I think it’s going to be joyous! This music we’ve been creating with my trio Django is like a kind of road we’re building, leading us places that are a bit mysterious, sometimes a bit dark, but always with the same excitement and joy of sharing. There’s something very positive about it, something that sparkles, and I think that fits quite well with all that’s happening here. So I think it’s going to be day that recounts a special story all its own!

P: You were eager to come experience the birth of the 2019 vintage at harvest time. Immersing yourself in a place and a history, is that essential for you when you’re preparing to improvise?

T.C.: Yes, to soak up the ambiance of a place, of a whole team… There is a real spirit shared by people here, a genuine pleasure and passion you feel among those who work for Palmer. And Thomas is a fountain of knowledge; he knows the region and the terroir so well. To discover that the quality of soil can change completely when you move just 1 or 2 metres, from gravel soils, to earthy soils, to much more clayey soils like those found along the river; to learn the differences that that result from this in the vines and the wines; to understand that it’s the oldest vines that create the finest wines; to recognise the differences between the grape varieties; to realise that in one cuvée there are several grape varieties blended together, and how there are different stages of fermentation… All of this is really inspiring.

P: In your eyes, is the link between jazz and wine an obvious one?

T.C.: I was talking with Thomas precisely about that. What I find interesting is how, here too, every year creating wine involves a lot of interpretation and improvisation. Music as I conceive it is nourished by many forms of music and many other influences. In the same way that to successfully blend a wine we must taste and taste and then add more or less on each terroir and each grape variety. It’s a mélange, a mixture, and with music it’s basically the same thing.

And then there’s a second level. There’s also the fact that you must constantly react to the vagaries of weather. One year, you will have a wine with a bit more backbone, and the next you’ll have a more solar wine… You have to know how to manage all this to create something with balance and harmony. You also have to be able to deal with the wider environment. To bring animal life into the equation, and to take into account the entire ecosystem, is to remain attuned to your entourage, which is so essential when performing jazz, this music of constant movement.

It’s all about movement! There is no set recipe, nothing is definitive. We’re constantly seeking ways to renew ourselves, other means of enrichment and improvement. And the music that I love is that which is adventurous, which emerges from a desire to explore new horizons. So all of that speaks to me, these are areas of correspondence, of obvious similarity.

P: How are you preparing for the revelation of this new vintage, and for your role as the chief curator of all the music for this year’s event?

T.C.: I’m so pleased about it! I like to think that it will be something of a made-to-measure evening, conceived especially for this vintage. I don’t yet know what form it will take… Either it will involve the composition of a work in honour of the vintage, or else the reinterpretation of an existing work, dedicated to this vintage. In any case, I love the idea of playing in the cellar, in this vast space surrounded by barrels. It’s going to be special!

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10.10.2019
The Taste of Harvest
It’s a crucial period of the year in Bordeaux, with harvest season already in full swing at Château Palmer for more than two
October 2019 – It’s a crucial period of the year in Bordeaux, with harvest season already in full swing at Château Palmer for more than two weeks. The grapes that have reached full maturity are being carefully harvested from parcel to parcel. The freshly picked bunches are carried to the sorting table where a team attends to the removal of leaves and damaged berries. In the estate’s vat room, the tanks are filled methodically so that each will contain only a single lot of grapes from a specific parcel.
 
Next comes the tasting of the juice, which takes place every morning in the tasting area of the vat room. Thomas, the director of the estate, Sabrina, the technical director, Olivier, the cellar master, and Hervé, who runs the analysis laboratory, all come together to taste each of the lots and to lay down the programme of tasks, like remontage or pumping over the must, for the following day.
 
At this stage, certain musts still have sugars remaining, while others, notably from the first parcels harvested, have finished their alcoholic fermentation. The tasters concentrate on their texture, their tannic structure, and their acidity, to guide them in setting the rhythm and volume of pump-overs for all the vats.
 
This morning tasting is a decisive moment, when choices made in managing a vinification will contribute to shape the new vintage. It’s an exercise which requires an acute knowledge of Château Palmer’s vineyards, to be able to make decisions that will allow this 2019 vintage to fully express all the richness, nuance, complexity, and beauty of our terroir.
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10.09.2019
"Jazz, the sound of New-York" by Philippe Lévy-Stab
Château Palmer welcomes the exhibition “Jazz, the Sound of New York” by Philippe Lévy-Stab.
September 2019 - Château Palmer welcomes the exhibition “Jazz, the Sound of New York” by Philippe Lévy-Stab. Composed of portraits of great jazzmen and perspectives of urban landscapes, the exhibition retraces a unique creative project developed over the course of the last thirty years by the photographer. From 2nd September to 20th December 2019, the photographer’s universe unites with that of the estate, brought together by a shared passion for jazz.
 
Philippe Lévy-Stab has been encapsulating the spirits of the greatest figures in jazz since he was a teenager. In photos taken over the course of all-night sessions in Manhattan clubs, he captures the inspiration and singularity of these musicians. By exposing them on paper he gives form to the intangible, printing black and white photographs that reveal the humanity of such artists as Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis, and Archie Shepp.
 
Spontaneous by nature, jazz is generally not a conducive setting for long portrait sittings. In adapting to this constraint, the photographer created his own style. His photographs are the fruit of short, five-minute shooting sessions directly in front of the musicians, a proximity made possible by the relationships and trust he’s developed over three decades of immersion in the jazz world.
 
Philippe Lévy-Stab’s images also celebrate New York, whose rhythms the photographer has internalised through years of walking its streets. For him, the links between music and urban landscapes are palpable. As Lévy-Stab puts it, “If jazz were a cry, it would be that of New York itself, this city of such energy it forges its own reality, where the spirit of jazz reveals its deepest truths.”
 
The exhibition “Jazz, the sound of New-York” by Philippe Lévy-Stab may be seen during estate visits to Château Palmer, from 2nd September to 20th December 2019. Length: 2 ½ hours - 70€ - Reservations by e-mail: chateau-palmer@chateau-palmer.com
 
 
Roy Hargrove - City Hall Park, New York 2009
Gelatin silver print 100x100cm - Ed. of 5.
©Philippe Lévy-Stab
 
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30.08.2019
The Benefits of Compost
Composting is the ideal process for recycling all the organic materials that would otherwise be thrown away at...

August 2019 — Composting is the ideal process for recycling all the organic materials that would otherwise be thrown away at Château Palmer. It is composed of four elements. Animal manure comes from the cattle and sheep that our shepherds care for. Vine cuttings are gathered up by our vineyard manager, the vignerons and the tractor drivers. Waste remaining from the harvest is made up of grape stems and waste from the sorting tables (grapes, insects, leaves). Green waste from our gardens includes branches, twigs, peelings and much more. All of these elements that enter into creating the compost are collected throughout the year, with the exception of harvest waste, which is amassed from September to October. All of it is kept in piles on a specially dedicated parcel of land.

In the month of August, the four piles are mixed together using a blending mill. The compost is laid out in windrows, or long swathes, across the ground. Biodynamic preparations made from plants are added to encourage the transformation into compost. It’s at this moment that a fermentation begins, reaching a temperature of 60°C, and causing water to evaporate.

The compost will evolve and slowly stabilise over several months. This richly complex process will yield numerous benefits for the vines and the soil. It can be used when still “young”, after around four months of maturation, or when “old”, after more than six months of maturation. “Young” compost will have high concentrations of nitrogen compounds that will be beneficial for the plant. “Old” compost will be richer in carbon and represent a valuable contribution to the soil. The dispersal of compost in the vineyard takes place between December and January, notably when planting new vines, but also for certain parcels already in production.

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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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