Alter Ego is again a true second wine - not a whole different blend like so many - this is heavy on the Merlot - mimicking the top Palmer. (52% here rather than 45% in the first wine). The result is great. A delicious attack is pithy and bright with a super weight of deep red fruit and grown-up cedar notes. The focus and delineated strata are impressive, balance between svelte fruit made up of wild strawberries and morello cherry flesh, the dusty super supple tannins, the acidity and taut mineral line is just effortless - really impressive, especially remembering this is not a 'top' wine. Rating: 93 L&S (Apr 2015)
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The 2014 Alter Ego de Palmer has quite a feisty, vivacious bouquet with red cherries, crushed strawberry and peppermint scents bounding from the glass. There is just a little warmth here that detracts from its delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, crisp and taut with good acidity, spicy with clove and white pepper, leading to a cohesive and quite persistent finish. There is good potential in this Margaux but it will need time. Tasted blind at the annual Southwold tasting. Drinking range: 2020 - 2040 Rating: 91 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Mar 2018)
Serious, complex wine with layers and ambition. Real edge to this. Hint of mint but also floral perfume and some interesting persistence. Slightly salty. Drinking range: 2024 - 2044 Rating: 17.5 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Feb 2018)
The Alter Ego de Palmer 2014 is a blend of 52% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Petit Verdot. It has an opulent, glossy bouquet with layers of small dark cherries and plenty of glycerin. The palate is more reserved than the bouquet suggests: saturated tannins, a little chewiness on the entry but suppler towards the finish. It feels very linear in keeping with the style of the vintage, the finish a little sweet than its peers with a dab of licorice on the aftertaste. Drinking range: 2019 - 2035 Rating: 90-92 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2015)
Margaux Troisième cru 1855 What is now Château Palmer was originally part of a larger Château d'Issan but was divided among heirs and came into the ownership of the Gascq family in 1748. The widow of the last of the Gascqs, in 1814, and apparently having met him on a stagecoach, sold the estate to an Englishman, General Charles Palmer, and Château de Gascq became Château Palmer. He extended the estate and built quite a reputation for his wines (especially in London) but financial difficulties forced him to sell up in 1843 and, by the time of the 1855 classification, the reputation of Château Palmer had slipped sufficiently to rate "only" 3rd Growth status - a status it has exceded for most of its subsequent history. The present château was built at the end of the 1850's. In 1938 the Société Civile de Château Palmer was formed to take ownership of the estate, with the Sichel and Mähler-Besse families as leading shareholders, a situation which persists to this day. Château Palmer sits between Margaux and Cantenac, just east of Issan. The 55ha of vines are planted to 47% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the balance being Petit Verdot. The Grand Vin spends 21 months in wood (45% new). The second wine is Alter Ego de Château Palmer. In the best years of General Palmer's reign, the wines of Château Palmer were regarded on a par with those of Château Margaux and, indeed, during the worst years of the 1960's Palmer probably had a better reputation. Today, despite huge improvements by its neighbours, Palmer sits very squarely as the leading Margaux estate that isn't actually Château Margaux.
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