chateau palmer 3eme cru classe, margaux 2018
A massive beast of a wine, the 2018 Palmer checks in as a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot that comes from mildew decimated yields of 11 hectoliters per hectare. The vineyard manager commented that he had never seen conditions so favorable for mildew during the spring, and with the estate holding fast to their biodynamic viticulture, the result was a loss of over 70% of the normal production. Unsurprisingly, with barely any grapes to go around, no Alter Ego was produced. The 2018 reveals a saturated plum/purple color as well as a dense, full-bodied style that carries loads of plum, blackberry, and currant fruits as well as notes of scorched earth and graphite. The tiny yields certainly resulted in a massive, concentrated wine (it has the highest IPT ever recorded at the domaine), yet it lacks the purity and precision as well as weightless style of both the 2015 and 2016 at this point. Regardless, it's one thrilling, singular mouthful of a Palmer that has masses of ripe tannins, terrific balance, and a blockbuster finish. It's going to require upwards of a decade of bottle age and should live for just about forever.
Dense and concentrated, this is a powerfully rich wine. It has a velvet texture that masks the tannins, which are solid, precise and impressive in structure. It is a great wine that comes from a very low-yield crop and it will age quite well.
It is the essence of cabernet fruit with density that is so thick that it has the texture of grape puree. Full body and melted tannins that give the wine a sense of velvet. Very soft and juicy. With air, it goes to bright, crushed black currants. Tar. Fresh tannins give it energy. I have never tasted anything like this in all my 38 years as a wine critic in Bordeaux. From tiny berries of cabernet sauvignon (53 per cent), 40 per cent merlot and seven per cent petit verdot.
Possibly the most talked about estate in the vintage, with its mildew-induced 11hl/ha yields making waves all the way back at harvest time. They made it through though, and have made an exceptional wine that will clearly be discussed and enjoyed for years to come. There's no denying that the yields have had an impact - even in the colour you see a rich, velvety density with the violet edging that suggests a good pH (it's 3.83, so a touch higher than usual). There is a stunning sweetness to the cassis and bilberry fruits, and it retains the finesse and floral aromatics of Palmer even with the concentration, complexity and depth on show here. It also has the signature of the vintage, and despite the volume of tannins it feels silky and seductive, and you wonder if it will close down at all. This certainly has a long life ahead of it. Sadly there is no Alter Ego in 2018, for the first time since it was created in 1998, with the production of the grand vin down by about 50% on a normal year.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Palmer is composed of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Grapes were harvested September 13 to October 15, and the wine has a 3.83 pH and 14.3% alcohol. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is a little reticent to begin, but with coaxing, it slowly emerges to show fragrant violets, underbrush, mossy bark and iron ore with exponentially growing notions of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, plum preserves, hoisin, Christmas cake and red roses with wafts of dusty earth, Indian spices and cracked black pepper. Full-bodied, concentrated and downright powerful in the mouth, it has a solid structure of firm, wonderfully plush tannins and masses of fragrant accents, finishing very long and very spicy. By the time I finished tasting this, the nose had exploded in this fragrant bomb of fruit, earth and floral notions. This is one of those 2018 wines that has a beguiling brightness that comes from the many floral, spice and mineral accents among all that rich fruit. WOW!
The level of glycerine sets this apart, giving the cascade of plum, currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit extra oomph, while seeming to heighten the purity at the same time. Beautiful violet, incense and juniper notes flash in the background. This is packed with iron-laced grip, but remains seamless and extremely long. I suspect this will be one of the most talked-about wines of the vintage.