Some vintages, it seems the entire cycle of life,
from bud break to harvest, progresses at the tranquil
tempo of exquisite clockwork. Yet it’s when the seasons
go offbeat, and vignerons must dig deep to find
their rhythm anew, that estates can truly reveal the essence
of a grand cru – so it was in 2016.
A winter so mild the Merlot vines budded early, a spring
so wet we feared a mildew calamity… 2016 kept
our vineyard team on their toes. But they rose to
the challenge like great jazz players, who upon hitting
an unexpected note, can fold the troublesome tone into
a jubilant new melody. They improvised with gusto and
grandeur, until a dry, mellow summer brought a sigh of relief.
As autumn neared, the grapes began to don their habitual
midnight blue. Finally, on October 3 began the latest
harvest in memory! Yields were modest, unsurprising given
the year’s ordeals, but quality was simply stunning. Powerful,
perfectly ripe tannins, extraordinary aromatics… sublimating
such superior fruit is a cellar team’s raison d’être. Though still
maturing, the nascent Palmer and Alter Ego 2016 already boast
equilibriums wholly distinct from previous great vintages.
Balancing elegance and depth, their alcohol content is
quite typical, yet their tannic structure utterly exceptional.
In the end, it’s Palmer’s unmistakeable velvet character
which distinguishes these wines as our own, silken proof
that in this unexpected vintage, Château Palmer found
its rhythm after all.