The 2018 Palmer was affected by mildew, losing two-thirds of the crop, equating to 11hl/ha – in other words, one bunch per vine. It was picked between September 13 and October 15. The intense bouquet offers multilayered black fruit laced with pressed iris, incense and even a touch of lavender. This Palmer explodes from the glass unlike any other that I have tasted over the last two decades. The palate is full-bodied, but I would not describe it as "exotic" but rather a Palmer of larger "dimension" than normal. It has a slightly chalky texture, very good structure and a fine bead of acidity keeping everything in check. The alcohol is just below 14% so there is no warmth toward the finish, but I suspect this Margaux will close down for a few years before really showing what it can do. Pretty awesome. 2028-2065
|Score: 94/96||Neal Martin, vinous.com, November 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!
|Score: 97/99||Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2019|
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.
|Score: 94/95||James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2019|
The 2018 Palmer is a freak of nature from yields of just 11 hectoliters per hectare harvested over an entire month by CEO Thomas Duroux and his team. Rich, unctuous and flamboyant in its ripeness, the 2018 possesses off the charts intensity from start to finish. Blackberry jam, espresso, crème de cassis, licorice, menthol, lavender and cloves develop in a palate-staining, hedonistic Palmer that oozes with personality. This extravagantly ripe Margaux won't be for everyone, but it is a stunning, head-spinning wine that may, in time, very well join the ranks of the truly epic Palmers. A wine of pure and total pleasure, the 2018 is nearly impossible to resist. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. In 2018, Palmer bottled just their Grand Vin and no Alter Ego.
|Score: 95/98||Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, May 2019|
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%
|Score: 18.5||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.
|Score: 17+||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.
|Score: 95/97+||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.
|Score: 97/100||James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, March 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.
|Score: 98/100||Jane Anson, Decanter.com, April 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.
|Score: 19.5+||Matthew Jukes, MatthewJukes.com, April 2019|