If it were a château, would it be in the sky? Quiet, haughty, disconnected from days and nights? No. Just like at Palmer, it would be firmly rooted among the vines.
Who still dreams of châteaux? The Grand Siècle fantasy has worn thin. The new world seeks out the horizontal, refusing all arrogant ancestors. While this may be true, we are too quick to forget that its towers are also perfect lightning rods. Freed from its cold disdain, the château now appears as an anchor, an efficient catalyst capturing energy from the landscape to emanate across the surrounding areas.
To truly understand this concept at Palmer requires beginning a journey at the port, allowing the ocean breeze to blow you from the estuary to the foliage of the vine stock. From there, the silhouette will loom tall, nestled against the hill, the bridge that binds the estate together.
The château recounts the history of Palmer much like the needle deciphers music from the grooves of a vinyl record. A walled complex that amplifies atmospheres and eras, set to an endlessly singular and overpowering melody. While the estate has existed since the early 18th century, the château only came to life in 1854. This was a year after two brothers Isaac and Emile Pereire, iconic businessmen of the Second Empire, acquired the 163-acre ensemble created by the adventurous Charles Palmer. They decided to endow it with an edifice befitting its reputation – a reputation confirmed by the classification of 1855.
The château was built by Bordeaux architect Charles Burguet in a neo-Gothic style in keeping with the times. It featured a main building spanning three floors, flanked by four turrets with round front-facing façades and angular rear sections. These aspects are hardly out of the ordinary, but those looking closely at the detailed ornaments will see that the subtle Baroque appearance – which adopts a mysterious aura after nightfall – is akin to the fabulous quintas in the Portuguese town of Sintra so adored by Lord Byron. This reference is not down to chance, but in fact highlights both the Lusitanian origins of the Pereire brothers and the estate’s cosmopolitan personality.
Alongside this worldly openness, the Pereire brothers also extended the château outwards in the tradition of the Bordeaux estates, building a self-sufficient village home to the workers who oversaw the smooth-running of the property.
These are two sides of the same coin.
At Palmer, the château is worn like a talisman. Its place on the label is not just symbolic. It deepens with every passing day, shaping the organization of the village and lending a full sense to the consumable landscape – both its meaning and its direction.
by Paul-Henri Bizon