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FICOFI: Chateau Palmer 1999-2006

November 26, 2018

This tasting stems from a FICOFI function held at the Ritz-Carlton, Singapore, on 08 June 2018 in the presence of the CEO of Chateau Palmer, M. Thomas Duroux. I have never come across anyone who has anything against this excellent troisiemes cru. Since the 1980s, Ch Palmer has consistently run Chateau Margaux really close. In certain vintages, particularly in 1983, 1989 and 1999, I’d say that Ch Palmer may even be the better wine, especially when one factors in the price differential. Of course, Ch Palmer is more expensive now than before, but it has consistently pushed the boundaries of its quality such that the gap between itself and Ch Margaux has narrowed tremendously. In particular, it is in the so-called off vintages that Palmer represents great value. For this evening, FICOFI has showcased Ch Palmer from the best years although 2006 is probably more classic rather than outstanding. The 2010 Alter Ego de Palmer is superb but it’s a great pity we didn’t have the 2010 Ch Palmer on hand too to do a side-by-side comparison. Overall, my impression is highly consistent with a recent vertical that I’d reported in November 2017. It would be fascinating to compare Palmer versus Margaux, vintage for vintage. That would be a great wine theme to consider.

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With Thomas Duroux, CEO of Chateau Palmer

 2007 Delamotte Blancs de Blanc. Lovely bouquet of delicate citrus, wild flowers and lime of excellent density. Good presence on the palate, more minerally with characters of aged chalk. Expansive without being opulent, finishing well.

2010 Alter Ego de Palmer. Deep garnet red. Intense complex bouquet of dark plums, black berries, ripe wild berries with traces of licorice, dark chocolate and black currants. Very well replicated on the palate with a luxurious sheen of very warm ripe fruit still coated in some enamel, very well layered with excellent concentration within a delicate tannin structure though not showing much complexity. Highly pleasurable. Probably the most successful Alter Ego ever.

2006 Ch Palmer. Rich ripe bouquet of blackberries and cassis, exuding sweet aromas. Medium-full. Rounded with good presence and definition that benefitted from its transparent textures, still tannic at this stage though the wine is, surprisingly, gentle in intensity, developing more smoky tones over time. Not quite settled yet.

2005 Ch Palmer. This wine has shut down considerably though the medium-full palate is imbued with abundant ripe raspberries and mocha that imparted superb acidity and structure, taking its time to flesh out. Plenty of raw potential, a wine that’s still far from its peak. Best to lay down.

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2000 Ch Palmer. This wine exudes a dark earthy pungency amidst aromas of delicious dark currants. Very open and highly supple, richly layered with gorgeous ripe fruit with a rich core of marmalade and soy on a cedary floor within a velvety tannin structure that tapered to a long glowing persistent finish. Highly luxuriant and sophisticated in feel. Superb.

1999 Ch Palmer. Gentle aromas of soy and ripe dark berries on the nose. Medium-bodied. Rounded and feminine in character, showing good transparency but not quite as succulent as I remembered, missing a bit of stuffing. Surprisingly short as well. I’ve always felt that the 1999 Ch Palmer is better than the 2000 but this may have to change as it is beginning to show some of the shortcomings of this vintage.

2007 Ch d’Yquem. This Sauternes from a perfect growing season is fully deserving of all its accolades and more. Deep and luscious, highly lifted in apricot and nectarines with an infusion of sweet incense on a full and concentrated palate, seamlessly integrated with broad swathes of sublime acidity, showing wonderful focus, definition and delineation throughout its superb length. Still infantile but already highly precocious. Outstanding.

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