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25.04.2022
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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22.04.2022
Open/Closed: A Château
Who still dreams of châteaux?

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

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15.04.2022
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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14.01.2022
Passing the torch - PART 1
Château Palmer is an intricate patchwork of skillsets, grape varieties and personalities...

Château Palmer is an intricate patchwork of skillsets, grape varieties and personalities. 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. Each section has its own dedicated squad, its "specialist" winegrower, its mood swings and sense of humour, its pruning style and its harvest. These rich, varied profiles have all had a dramatic year; twelve rainy months with little sunshine and the threat of frost and mildew. A "summerless" year, as the growers like to say, having come to terms with the whims of the climate. "We were wearing T-shirts in February and woolly hats in April." But the unpredictable weather has done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm, nor sap their work ethic, which is founded on precision, attentiveness and a love of the earth.

 

Boston-Boulibrane

In a mixture of jest and pride, Jonathan has named it the "Arctic Circle." This island is the furthest and wildest on the Château Palmer estate; an enclave fit only for strong hands and hardy souls capable of braving the cold to nurture a young, undisciplined Cabernet-Sauvignon vine planted just twenty years ago. Back in 2017, the frost decimated the harvest. Since then, the plot's crack team led by Stéphanie has refined its strategy to rescue any endangered sections. Their methods now include emergency wind turbines against late frosts, an arsenal of candles lit for the first time this year, and regularly spraying the vine with herbal tea. Accompanied by Teddy, an archaeology graduate with a passion for biodynamic agriculture, this brigade of adventurous winegrowers and vineyard first-aiders enjoy the reward of working in a unique, wooded setting near the sheep pen. A challenging land, but therefore one of infinite promise.

 

The 40s-50s

A railway track meanders through this island and its twenty plots, home to a majority of Merlot and a small section of Cabernet and Petit Verdot. This third variety is gentler and easier to prune than the others, but also more sensitive to humidity in a context where there can be "all four seasons in one day," as Marie often says. She and her colleague Kyllian welcomed a new member this winter. At the age of forty, Bruno has discovered teamwork, the Palmer spirit — "getting the most out of every detail!" — and is astounded by the daily celebration of biodiversity. "Nature recharges its batteries here; you can feel it. The grass is thick, teeming with insects, and the occasional snake. I prefer seeing animals than tractors. It's essential for our children's future."

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04.01.2022
2022, A New Chapter
While the vine rests and grows, the cold winter nights already offer a glimpse of the next season, rooted in history and thir

A cycle ends under a deep-blue evening sky. The hallmark is there, fixed for eternity, a momentum lending its color to the estate and expressing its infinite nuances of uncompromising respect for nature, the highest standards of expertise, and the absolute sincerity of a longstanding commitment.

 

While the vine rests and grows, the cold winter nights already offer a glimpse of the next season, rooted in history and thirsty for rebirth. The future of Château Palmer is not left to chance; it is crafted attentively, to a jazz-like beat, blending knowledge from the past, sensitivity to the present, and pioneering spirit.

 

In this context, the outline of tomorrow is sketched in the seasonal half-light. An autonomous farm based on a circular economy, a stroll through a renovated village, a nurturing landscape delicately set to music, ending with exceptional wines as nature plays out the full, fertile extent of its composition.

 

One chapter ends, but an invitation is extended once again to venture further each day, steeped in the passion of the vines and a celebration of life, constantly clearing new ground, seeking reinvention while standing tall on sustainable and prestigious foundations. Towards infinite new perspectives.

 

Watch the video : https://bit.ly/chateau_palmer2022

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14.10.2021
2021, Convergent Forces - part 2
Men & women make up the crucial patchwork of the harvest, joining forces to bring as many grapes to the vat room.

      During this period, the estate's staff jumps from 70 to 230 workers, bunches of men and women who make up the crucial patchwork of the harvest, joining forces to bring as many grapes as possible to the vat room. This is where all roads lead, where everything plays out under the high ceilings of the building next to the cellar. The beating heart of the hive, where the excellence of a vintage is concocted with second-by-second meticulous attention. A dozen experienced winemakers receive the pallets. They first sort the grapes by hand before turning to the indispensable arsenal of machinery, including destemmers, vibrating tables and optical sorters, which use high-speed cameras to detect and eject any unripe or bruised grapes. Only the highest-quality fruit is transported into the small, mobile vats — at a speed of 499 feet per minute — then into the main vat where four weeks of fermentation await.

Hands whirl and brains buzz around the machines. The bunches, individual berries and waste products are weighed, estimations are corrected, data is reassessed. "This is the control tower," says a smiling Fabien, who monitors the traceability of each delivery on his computer screen. The harvest is known for its physical demands, but also implies endless calculations, from the flurry of pallets and the number of hectolitres per hectare to the density of each vat and the pin-point temperatures. Every single step is perpetually adapted and adjusted.

This crucial, infinitesimal task continues on the floor above with the technical tasting process. Eleven bottles containing a sample from each vat are lined up on a table, ready to be swilled, inhaled and carefully compared. Thomas and Sabrina check that each fermentation is coming to fruition. Even at this stage they comment on the future vintage, plot by plot, assisted by cellar master Olivier and Hervé, a trained chemist, who prepares the "starter" with natural yeasts studied under the microscope in the laboratory. 

In the cellars, trainees accompanied by the teams "pump over" the must onto the top of the vat, before letting it flow back down through the grapes and the pomace, absorbing, darkening, and developing its structure. This operation is repeated three times a day. "This is when the skeleton of the wine is formed," says Hervé. "The foundations and key flavours of the vintage take shape." During the fermentation, "we taste each of the vats every day — 56 in total," says Olivier. A cutting-edge science that draws on the nose and the palate, requiring memory and intuition. A decisive instant in which four people sketch the soul of the wine by imagining potential combinations and anticipating future blends.

Another more light-hearted and restorative tasting session then begins. As a reward for twelve months of hard work, a shared lunch is held under a marquee a stone's throw from the cellar. A traditional truce, a leisurely break attended by winemakers, cellar workers, and all those who form the lifeblood of the estate. Even the chickens are there, waiting for a kindly hand to throw them the last pieces of bread left on the checked table cloth.

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14.10.2021
2021, CONVERGENT FORCES - PART 1
The Château Palmer grape harvest gives the impression of a gentle sprint, a controlled frenzy.

      The Château Palmer grape harvest gives the impression of a gentle sprint, a controlled frenzy. Each person knows their role by their heart, making timely adjustments and reacting calmly in the face of unpredictable weather. And indeed, the expected — or rather dreaded — late-September rains lived up to the term "precipitation" in every sense of the word. These downpours kicked off the spectacle: the harvest of the 2021 vintage began three days early, on Friday, September 24, and ended in the second week of October after a marathon that proved to be more relaxed than expected. The solemn, heart-warming culmination of an intense year and a gloomy summer. 

      "It's a happy time for us," says Driss, a winemaker and groundskeeper on the estate. The rest of the year, we work in separate teams. The harvest is when we all come together to take part in the grand finale." Some 15 winemakers are working around him: the "cutters," red secateurs in hand, remove plump bunches of Merlot from the vines, alternating with the "porters" who, with crates harnessed to their backs, march back and forth between the vine stock and the truck. Château Palmer's permanent staff get to know the seasonal workers, including Carmen, who has travelled from the town of Gradignan with her son, or joke around with the apprentices, such as Isabella, accompanied by her dogs. Here, separating the grapes from each plot is as important as uniting those who harvest them. Fruit is divided; people are mixed together.

      A few feet away, a group task is being completed by 16 refugees, including Abdil Basir, a former taxi driver from Afghanistan who arrived in France in 2019, and Abdul, originally from Sudan. "Some of them are eager to keep working on the vines after the harvest," says Stéphanie, wearing a blue Château Palmer "Vintage 2021" T-shirt. She and Émilie are also supervising a group from the local youth career centre, comprised of young adults from 16 to 25. For many of them, this is their first professional experience. "They get off the coach on the first day as if they were arriving at a holiday camp," say the two winemakers. "Then they discover the connection with nature and the rigor of our work. Guiding them takes a lot of energy and you have to really make yourself heard, but it's a fulfilling experience. We are team leaders, canteen staff and social workers all at once!"

      A little further on, in the midst of the vines, three other figures are choreographing this autumnal dance: Thomas Duroux, director of Château Palmer, Sabrina Pernet, technical director, and Oriane Heuillet, head of research and development. Every day, these pillars of the estate scour the vineyard, smelling and tasting the grapes, comparing and deciding which plots to harvest first. Number 38, for example, can wait until Saturday, while number 70's clusters of Petit Verdot must be picked as soon as possible - and "gently," insists Sabrina, relaying instructions over the phone.

      After a challenging year marred by a lack of sunshine, spring frosts, and persistent mildew, the trio seems to be reassured by their mobile tasting-session. "The tannins in this plot are fantastic," says Thomas Duroux, who is predicting "wines that might just surprise us."

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