Alter Ego has released today, the famous second wine of Chateau Palmer. In 2016 Alter Ego impresses, we thought it was very fine indeed. It has been awarded 95-96 points from James Suckling, yet 89-91 from Neal Martin which we feel is definitely too low. However, this score places it potentially behind the 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2009 in terms of perceived quality, although it is likely to hit the 91, the upper limit of it barrel score. This would mean that today’s release price is at a discount to the potentially equal scoring 2009 and 2010 but only by a small margin. In fact today’s release represents a 11.4% euro increase, which translates as an 18.6% pound increase. We believe therefore that there is little incentive in terms of short-term price appreciation on release. 2016 is a fine Alter Ego, but the smart money is on the 2012 and 2014. It is noteworthy however that production is 55% down in 2016, so if this is a perennial buy, it is important to secure on release.
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If the 1855 classification of Bordeaux were to be carried out today, Chateau Palmer would be the highest ranked Second Growth, despite having been classified as a Third Growth the first time around. Palmer 2016 has just been awarded a potential 100-point score, besting Chateau Margaux, its neighbour in the village of Margaux: the Chateau’s stock has never been higher. Its truly global cachet extends to its famous second wine Alter Ego, which is viewed as chief among the second wines, of the superb seconds. Alter Ego is almost as renowned as the Grand Vin and is a pervasive favourite among claret drinkers. It is noteworthy that Alter Ego was only introduced in 1998, designed to be of Grand Vin quality, thus replacing La Reserve de General as the Estate’s second wine. Prior to 1998 Chateau Palmer made 20,000 cases, however, the introduction of Alter Ego reduced this to 12,000. The remaining production, around 8,000 cases then goes into Alter Ego. Alter Ego therefore is perennially fashioned from many of the vines that produced Palmer.
Alter Ego de Palmer 2016, 12×75 – £560 EP
89-91 Points, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate
The 2016 Alter Ego de Palmer is a blend of 40% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot this year (a little less Merlot than usual). That exuberant Merlot drives the aromatics along, almost citrus-like with scents of blood orange and blueberries soaring from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin on the entry, quite sharp acidity at first, quite structured for an Alter Ego with a grippy finish. I think the new oak will bind this together, this sample coming from a used barrel.
95-96 Points, James Suckling
This is very concentrated yet soft and fresh in texture. Full-bodied and round and mouth-filling. So impressive how it fills your mouth yet remains fresh. It’s so framed.
Another notable release today is Chateau Siran, a second consecutive strong vintage from this Chateau in Margaux following the superb 2015. Siran was scored 92-94 points from the Wine Advocate and 94-95 points from James Suckling, both their joint highest scores. In fact, both critics note that ‘This is a great follow-up to the 2015’, with Martin going one step further saying, ‘this is one of the very few occasions in the appellation where I think it might surpass it.’ Today’s release price of £240 represents a 13.3% euro increase on the 2015, which translates as a 20% pound increase. That said, the 2016 still represents a healthy discount to the 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, despite being far superior in terms of quality. This is yet another wine of 2016 that offers a remarkably good POP (Price over Points) Score of just 18, which is remarkably low for a claret.
Located in the south of Margaux on a gravelly plateau, Siran dates back to 1428, making it one of the oldest estates in the appellation. Named after Saint Siran, the Estate is owned by the Miailhe family, who bought the land in 1859. Now under the management of the fifth generation in the form of Edouard Miailhe, it is one of the few Chateaux in Bordeaux to be owned by the same family for over 150 years. The property has undergone a complete renovation and modernization of the winemaking facilities in recent years, which came to completion in 2014. Since 2004, Professor Denis Dubordieu – adviser to Yquem, Cheval Blanc and Margaux – consulted at Siran up until his death last year. Siran now also houses a museum of wine-related artefacts, including ancient amphorae dating back to 300 BC, and is unique in its claim to have the only cellar in Bordeaux that can withstand a nuclear explosion! This is great news considering the excellent wines that the Estate is now producing – Margaux lovers should stock up.
Siran 2016, 12×75 – £240 EP
92-94 Points, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate
The 2016 Siran is a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc picked from 26 September until 20 October. The alcohol level is 13.9% with a pH of 3.61. The nose, for want of a better word, is very charming. No, not powerful nor is it flamboyant, yet the aromas are nicely focused and it has a disarming sense of purity: blackberry, bilberry and just a very faint hint of liquorice. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit, good grip in the mouth and fine purity. This is a strong follow-up to the 2015 Siran and tasting the two side by side, this is one of the very few occasions in the appellation where I think it might surpass it. Edouard Miailhe has radically improved Siran in recent years (see last year’s report) and this is certainly one to watch.
94-95 Points, James Suckling
This is a great follow-up to the 2015! Full-bodied, chewy and powerful. Solid core of ripe fruit and intense tannins. A triumph… again.
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