Today marks the release of one the great wines of the 2018 vintage, indeed, a future legend from the magnificent Chateau Palmer. We tasted Chateau Palmer on our fist formal day of tasting and it was a magical moment, a wine so sexy and seductive it immediately made one open their eyes to the potential greatness of 2018. It has been awarded 97-99 from Lisa Perrotti-Brown a wine she describes simply as ‘Wow’. It has been awarded 95-98 from Antonio Galloni who calls it a ‘head-spinning wine that may, in time, very well join the ranks of the truly epic Palmers.’ These scores place it among the greatest ever vintages from here, which from bottle will at least outscore the 96+ point 2010 and 97 point 2009, which trade at £2,700 and £2,400 per case of 12, while surpassing the 97 scoring 2005, which trades at £2,550. Indeed, with a score of 97-99 it should certainly equal, perhaps surpass the 98 and 98+ coring 2016 and 2015. We thought this could one day become a perfect scoring Palmer, with overwhelming complexity and power, combined with elegance and floral finesse. It is a masterpiece.
This is a superb achievement by the estate which acknowledged with integrity its well-reported problems with mildew in 2018. The result of mildew has greatly reduced production, Palmer choosing to make no Alter Ego and 6,000 cases of their Grand Vin. These draconian measures meant the grapes that remained could bathe in the sunshine of the second half of the growing seasons and in 2018 it has a Total Polyphenol Index (TPI) score of 83, this is a measure of the quantity of tannin, the highest for Chateau Palmer in modern history. We posited in our en primeur report that while Palmer is never economically priced, in 2018 forget the price tag – this will reward for half a century. That said it could be enjoyed from barrel, it left me wanting more, even at this nascent age. The release price today is £2,892 per case of 12 or £1,446 per case of six and this will sell out instantly, its promise as potentially the finest Palmer in a generation and the massive reduction in production will create immediate supply problems.
Despite its classification as a Third Growth, Palmer regularly surpasses the price and Parker points of many Second Growths and is considered by critics to be amongst the best produced wines anywhere in Bordeaux, second only to Château Margaux itself in the village of Margaux. Palmer is renowned for its beauty, perfume and concentration, its relatively high proportion of Merlot grapes in the blend makes it the Médoc’s most similar wine to those of Pomerol. The wine has a velvety smoothness with a high concentration of berry fruits and a floral nose of spring flowers.