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Palmer 2018

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Margaux
Grape VarietyCabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

Traditionally the finest wine of the Médoc after the 1st growths. The talented wine-maker is Thomas Duroux who always produces a pure, smooth and elegant wine with (for the Médoc) a high proportion of Merlot in the blend. Since 2014 the vineyard has been certified biodynamic. Unfortunately, the vineyard suffered a severe attack of Mildew in early July 2018 which reduced the crop to just 11 hectolitres per hectare - one third of the normal yield. The result of this is a production of only 6000 cases with no second wine produced at all. 10% of the crop was excluded and sold off in bulk. The final blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.

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Tasting Notes

A memorable vintage for both good and bad reasons, with yields that dropped down to 11h/h after mildew, but with a concentration and precision that is remarkable. This truly is a briliant wine. There are hints of dried fruit character, wrapped in the complexity of a wine stacked with cigar box, ripe berry fruit, dark chocolate, marmalade zest, turmeric and black pepper spice, layer upon layer, all served up with fresh acidites that make it moreish at the same time. Unusual, and beautiful. Harvest September 13 to October 15, 60% new oak.

Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com, December 2021

Complex nose of black cherries, blackberries, dark chocolate and floral undertones with perfume-like character. It’s full-bodied with firm tannins. Elegant on the palate with structure. Savory and balanced, complex and layered. Long finish. Really lingers. This has really evolved into a beautiful white swan after a difficult debut from barrel! Tiny production. only 11 hectoliters per hectare. Try after 2024.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, March 2021

The 2018 Palmer is composed of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. The wine has a 3.83 pH and 14.3% alcohol. Very deep garnet-purple in color, it explodes from the glass with atomic scents of blackberry preserves, crème de cassis and blueberry pie, plus suggestions of red roses, clove oil, dark chocolate and cedar chest with hints of Chinese five spice and menthol. The full-bodied palate is decadently styled, offering layer upon layer of black fruit preserves and exotic spices, framed by exquisitely plush tannins and seamless freshness, finishing wonderfully fragrant and with epic length. It's an amazingly beautiful beast of a wine—one for the hedonists! Drink: 2023 - 2053

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate, March 2021

Tasted blind. Deep, dark crimson. Smells rather Napa-ish. Very concentrated and rather 20th-century and old-fashioned. Fruit fades on the end. 14.5%
Drink 2026 – 2036

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, February 2022

Analytically the most powerful Palmer ever in terms of the tannins and the alcohol. Thanks to mildew, their yields were a measly 11 hl/ha and the total production about 6,000 cases. No Alter Ego this year. ‘A wine that will mark the history of the property’, according to technical director Thomas Duroux, like 1961. ‘A miracle from the vintage’, he thinks. 40% Merlot, 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot. Harvested 13 September to 15 October. Barrel sample.
Black with barely a purple rim. Intense, concentrated cassis and blackberry, super-ripe but absolutely not overripe, a little bit of alcohol on the nose, lightly floral even with all this concentration. Very dark, almost a little tarry, black olive. Dark and rocky. On the palate, incredible concentration and density but with no thickness or astringency. So dense but so clean-lined and precise. Tannins are dry and compact but smooth and there’s an amazing freshness that seems to come from the compact tannins. And your mouth feels clean on the finish. So moreish even though at the moment you would have to take small sips. Great finesse to the texture even in such a big wine. Dark, dark and savoury on the finish. No sweetness even though the fruit is pure and ripe. (JH) 14.3%
Drink 2028-2045

Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2019

A deep purple in the glass, this has a perfumed nose of violets and roses, with undertones of more redolent blackberry fruit that are bolstered by creamy, toasty new oak. The palate is dense and concentrated in fruit, with the tannins very polished and refined, giving a seamless texture and added creaminess. This pairs beautifully with the floral tones of the wine, adding weight and sweetness. The finish is long, and lifted by acidity to give a supple and hedonistic yet freshly balanced wine.

Farr Vintners, Farr Tasting, March 2019

A massive beast of a wine, the 2018 Palmer checks in as a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot that comes from mildew decimated yields of 11 hectoliters per hectare. The vineyard manager commented that he had never seen conditions so favorable for mildew during the spring, and with the estate holding fast to their biodynamic viticulture, the result was a loss of over 70% of the normal production. Unsurprisingly, with barely any grapes to go around, no Alter Ego was produced. The 2018 reveals a saturated plum/purple color as well as a dense, full-bodied style that carries loads of plum, blackberry, and currant fruits as well as notes of scorched earth and graphite. The tiny yields certainly resulted in a massive, concentrated wine (it has the highest IPT ever recorded at the domaine), yet it lacks the purity and precision as well as weightless style of both the 2015 and 2016 at this point. Regardless, it's one thrilling, singular mouthful of a Palmer that has masses of ripe tannins, terrific balance, and a blockbuster finish. It's going to require upwards of a decade of bottle age and should live for just about forever.

Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com, May 2019

The level of glycerine sets this apart, giving the cascade of plum, currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit extra oomph, while seeming to heighten the purity at the same time. Beautiful violet, incense and juniper notes flash in the background. This is packed with iron-laced grip, but remains seamless and extremely long. I suspect this will be one of the most talked-about wines of the vintage.

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, March 2019

(53 Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 Merlot, 7 Petit Verdot) | 65% new oak | 14.3% alc | 11 hl/ha | 3.83 pH | 85 IPT There was no Alter Ego made in 2018 and with only 11hl/ha yields, winemaker Thomas Duroux was lucky that he had any fruit at all to make his beloved Grand Vin. Thomas explained that it was his job to keep the Palmer DNA in this wine, at all costs. It therefore took his team a month to harvest just 60 hl of wine – they were most likely picking berry by berry! It certainly tastes like this wine was made using kid gloves though because it is every inch a remarkable creation. By trying to avoid concentration but to remain relaxed enough to harvest every single vine at the right time Palmer have made a triumphant wine in 2018. Had there been any pressure to rush out and pick this would not have been possible, but this vintage is unlike any other. Winemaking was all about following the pointers of the vintage while trying to maintain some semblance of control. What a revelation this wine is. It is super-fresh on the nose, palate and finish. There is amazing buoyancy of fruit with an eye-popping crunch of acidity underneath the extraordinary papal purple colour. Mega-precise, focussed and all-enveloping this is one of the most fascinating and mesmerising wines of the year. Thomas thinks it is a milestone wine at Palmer as he has never made any like this before. Like some of the other great vintages from this Château it was born of accident if you like. I simply allowed the ridiculously decadent fruit to wash over my palate while the Asian spices, liquorice root, violet and espresso details tweaked the synapses in my brain. The finish was still going half an hour after I left the property. This is a sublime wine.

Matthew Jukes, MatthewJukes.com, April 2019
Read more tasting notes...

It is the essence of cabernet fruit with density that is so thick that it has the texture of grape puree. Full body and melted tannins that give the wine a sense of velvet. Very soft and juicy. With air, it goes to bright, crushed black currants. Tar. Fresh tannins give it energy. I have never tasted anything like this in all my 38 years as a wine critic in Bordeaux. From tiny berries of cabernet sauvignon (53 per cent), 40 per cent merlot and seven per cent petit verdot.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2019

The 2018 Palmer is composed of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Grapes were harvested September 13 to October 15, and the wine has a 3.83 pH and 14.3% alcohol. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is a little reticent to begin, but with coaxing, it slowly emerges to show fragrant violets, underbrush, mossy bark and iron ore with exponentially growing notions of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, plum preserves, hoisin, Christmas cake and red roses with wafts of dusty earth, Indian spices and cracked black pepper. Full-bodied, concentrated and downright powerful in the mouth, it has a solid structure of firm, wonderfully plush tannins and masses of fragrant accents, finishing very long and very spicy. By the time I finished tasting this, the nose had exploded in this fragrant bomb of fruit, earth and floral notions. This is one of those 2018 wines that has a beguiling brightness that comes from the many floral, spice and mineral accents among all that rich fruit. WOW!

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2019

Possibly the most talked about estate in the vintage, with its mildew-induced 11hl/ha yields making waves all the way back at harvest time. They made it through though, and have made an exceptional wine that will clearly be discussed and enjoyed for years to come. There's no denying that the yields have had an impact - even in the colour you see a rich, velvety density with the violet edging that suggests a good pH (it's 3.83, so a touch higher than usual).

There is a stunning sweetness to the cassis and bilberry fruits, and it retains the finesse and floral aromatics of Palmer even with the concentration, complexity and depth on show here. It also has the signature of the vintage, and despite the volume of tannins it feels silky and seductive, and you wonder if it will close down at all. This certainly has a long life ahead of it. Sadly there is no Alter Ego in 2018, for the first time since it was created in 1998, with the production of the grand vin down by about 50% on a normal year.

Harvest ran from 13 September to 15 October, and 90% of production went into the grand vin due to the low yields. No sulphur was added to the fruit until after malo, and it is aged in 70% new oak, already barely discernible. Thomas Duroux said, by the way, that if mildew pressure happened again to this extent, he would treat despite his strong commitment to biodynamics. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Jane Anson, Decanter.com, April 2019
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.