Unique Palmer Tasting In Toronto (May 14, 2004)
On May 12, Bernard de Laage, Marketing Director of Château Palmer,
the celebrated cru classé of Margaux, conducted a unique tasting
at Toronto's National Club the first time ever the château
has allowed barrel samples of its component wines or the unfinished blends
to be sampled outside its own cellars.
|Bernard de Laage, Marketing Manager for Chateau Palmer
The event, entitled "Anatomy of a Bordeaux Château,"
was put on by the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America), and its
President, Roger Bohmrich MW, flew up from New York to moderate the tasting
with de Laage.
Tasting began with a description of the Bordeaux region and the origins
and special terroir of Château Palmer.
The sold-out room of 80 participants was treated to cask samples of two
component wines from Palmer's final blend Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
and Petit Verdot 2003 and then the 2003 Alter Ego de Palmer followed
by the 2003 Château Palmer. All of these wines had spent six months
in oak and will remain there for some 15 months more before bottling,
said de Laage. Bohmrich advised the tasters to consider these as "raw
wines in a primitive state" before their final ageing and bottling.
The 2003 wines, which will feature less Merlot than usual, come from
a vintage plagued by heat waves. All four wines were remarkable for their
concentration of flavour, ripeness and yet fine acid balance. Bernard
de Laage said he could not recall a vintage where the pits of the berries
were so ripe, "they tasted like coffee."
The next flight was chosen to show how the Palmer wines evolved in bottle,
beginning with the 2001 vintage of both Alter Ego and Palmer.
My notes follow:
Alter Ego 2001: dense purple colour; high toned, ripe cherry and vanilla
nose; elegant and stylishly lean, quite soft on the palate, firmly structured
and well balanced with a sweet redcurrant flavour; charming and forward.
Drinking nicely now but will improve with 23 years bottle age.****
Palmer 2001: deep and dense purple; minty, cedary nose of vanilla oak
and red berries; very elegant but corseted with tannins; showing lovely
red fruits, toasty oak and fresh acidity. Hold for five years at least.
Palmer 1999: the star of the tasting dense purple colour, very
youthful and holding to the rim; ripe black fruits with rose petals and
vanilla oak; rich and spicy, fleshy and round with soft tannins. Coming
into its own but will hold for a decade at least. *****
Palmer 1996: mature purple-ruby colour; more classic Bordeaux style
leather, tobacco, blackcurrants and cedar; very elegant, dry curranty
flavour with great balance leading to a firm tannic finish. Hold for two
Palmer 1994: mature ruby with purple notes; lovely nose of pomegranate
and vanilla, cedar and spice; light on the palate, not as concentrated
as other vintages because of late rains but soft and fresh in spite of
its lighter elements. Drink now to 2010. ****
Palmer 1991: an undeservedly forgotten vintage after the celebrated 1989
and 1990. Ruby colour with a tawny rim; coffee bean, cedar, redcurrant
nose; ripe sweet fruit with a sweet apple note; wonderfully balanced with
a lovely long spicy finish. Now to 2009. *****