47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. The extreme conditions of 2016 put a lot of pressure on growers, particularly biodynamic ones like Palmer. They held fire, and whilst their yields suffered (Palmer came in at 29 hl/ha where others were hovering around 40 hl/ha), the concentration and composure of the wine did not. Where the 2015 was exuberant, the 2016 is more nuanced, suggestive and delicate. Savoury tones swirl around the palate, which is spiced with some black pepper. A textured wine with a fresh balance. CP
The 2016 Palmer is a blend of 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot cropped at 29 hectoliters per hectare between 3 and 18 October. Matured in 65% new oak (my sample coming from a used barrel), the bouquet is perhaps not quite as intense as some of its peers and takes time to click into fifth gear. Eventually it offers tightly wound blackberry, briary and mineral scents; it is very focused, but maybe less extrovert and more classic in style compared to recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with a gentle grip on the entry, quite firm in the mouth with slightly tarry black fruit, hints of black truffle developing towards the finish that feels masculine and linear. It has very impressive length, completing what is an intellectual Palmer, one that I suspect will really blossom in bottle. Drink Date 2024 - 2055
47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. No sulphur dioxide until after MLF. Very dark, velvety look - really bright. Complex and energetic. Not simple and sweet but quite a step change. Feels a little transitional because it's so different and more energetic than the old style. 65% new oak, as always, but the wine can absorb it better. Some bitter chocolate. Lots of sweetness. Energy and freshness. Drink 2025-2045
I wrote that the 2015 was incredible, and this 2016 is again. It’s equally structured and powerful as the 2015, yet there’s an underlying intellectual serenity to this wine. You taste it, and you want to know and experience it even more. Full and tannic yet ever so polished and beautiful. Mesmerizing. Made from biodynamically grown grapes.
Sophisticated and polished from the outset, the 2016 Palmer is utterly captivating. Dark shades of fruit, accented by hints of smoke, leather and discreet French oak open up in the glass, but it is the wine'e effortless, gracious personality that stands out most. The 2016 literally hovers on the palate with exquisite grace. I can't wait to see how it ages.
The grand vin represents 65% of production in 2016, the highest ever. It has many similarities in style with the 2001 and 1986, being a classically styled wine full of soft slate, fern, liquorice and cassis, but from the modern era where you can achieve so much more precision. This is a wine that makes you smile from the first sip, and keeps on getting better, caressing you gently across the palate. There is never any let up through the mid-palate, and the biodynamics that have been practised here for the past few years are clearly paying off. Elegant, utterly silky and precise, the structure is just effortless with reasonably fresh alcohols that are the result of late ripening. A perfect example of the appellation, it has the florality, density and slow tannic pace that means it takes you right along with it as the flavours build. The blend is 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Intellectual without being overbearing, and built to age. This is impressive stuff.
Winemaker Thomas Duroux explained that 2016 could have been disastrous. The pressure on a biodynamic vineyard, with the amount of rain that fell in the first half of the season was, near-catastrophic. The Palmer team worked their socks off and as we all now know, the rain stopped at just the right time and what followed was a remarkable growing season, refreshed by the famous rains on the 13th September, and remembered as the latest harvest on record - between the 3rd and 18th October. The Grand Vin is a terroir selection mostly and in 2016 is one of the most captivating and joyous wines of the vintage. Very shy and very complex and it is impossibly long and it unravels brilliantly and incrementally on the palate. This is a masterpiece because it is the epitome of restraint and composure. With superb tannins and serious finesse this is a wine which has risen from great terroir in the most trying of conditions to confound and delight the drinker.
Tighter and much more compact at this young age than the 2015 was at the same stage, this is a serious, focused, age worthy Palmer with dense cassis and damson fruit, stylish oak, refined tannins and pithy acidity. “Intellectual,” says Thomas Duroux. 2024-35
Château Palmer has many followers. Indeed in certain vintages it even rivals Château Margaux itself. Its 1961 was one of the most compelling wines of the vintage outperforming most first growths. Many deem this château far more noble than its original classified third growth status which can be confirmed by its price.
Plump, silky and seductive are the words often used to describe wines from Margaux. Because of their style, they tend to be user friendly and more approachable when young. This is in part due to its terroir which is comprised of the thinnest soil as well as the highest proportion of chunky gravel in all of the Médoc. It drains well but also is it more susceptible to vintage variation. Margaux wines tend to have the highest proportions of Merlot within the core of the Médoc further adding to their ample roundness and openness. Margaux is home to the largest number of classified growths including its namesake first growth, Château Margaux, as well as third growths, Palmer and d'Issan.