Whether it was luck, kismet or sheer coincidence, the legend behind the origins of Margaux’s Château Palmer is among the most charming – and improbable – in all of Bordeaux. In the early 19th century, a stagecoach ride across France brought together the dashing Lieutenant Colonel Charles Palmer, a future major general of the British Army, and a young widow, Marie Brunet de Ferriere, who had recently inherited a tract of vineyards in the Médoc. Falling under the Lieutenant Colonel’s spell, Marie agreed to sell him the property. Before the trip was over, the son of a Bath brewer had become the owner of what is still known today as Château Palmer. While the true story may be slightly less romantic, what is accurate is the Englishman’s dedication to the land. Within 20 years, he grew the estate extensively, and its wine was classified as one of fourteen Third Growths in the 1855 Classification, soon becoming a rival to Château Margaux and Château Beychevelle.
Located among the Margaux and Cantenac communes, Palmer continues to grow equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (47% each) with the remaining 6% of the land dedicated to Petit Verdot. Its signature Château Palmer is known for its rich and exquisite combination of fruits, flowers and spice, with a harmony that develops with age. The estate also produces a second label (as opposed to a second wine) called Alter Ego, which, with its fruitier, fresher intensity, can be enjoyed much younger.
For all its nuanced elegance, Palmer does not express aggression, or, in the words of current estate Manager Thomas Duroux, “ostentation.” Instead, it seems to take its cue from Charles Palmer’s famous carriage ride, seeking to charm in moderation, mile by mile, until it achieves its ultimate destination.