Palmer and its Alter Ego are two nuanced expressions of the Chateau Palmer terroir, two interpretations of the variations offered by the climatic conditions of the vintage. These variations can be likened, in music, to symphonic pieces and their jazz adaptations, in the visual arts, to a classic painting and a contemporary rendering of the same subject, and, in literature, to an epic narrative in alexandrine verse and a prose poem. Alter Ego was born with the 1998 vintage. It resulted from a new approach to selecting and blending devised to interpret the Chateau Palmer terroir differently without departing from the values that make the reputation of our wines – namely, finesse and elegance, aromatic richness, harmony and length. Offering intense, crispy and juicy fruits, Alter Ego is a spontaneous uninhibited wine, soft and round as soon as it has finished barrel ageing. Its lush aromas and supple tannins make it a wine that can be appreciated in the first years after bottling. At the end of the summer, the slowly maturing berries are regularly tasted to evaluate their potential. We pay attention to the taste of the grape, the thickness of the skin, and the resistance of the seed. By this time we already have a sense of what the wines will be like. We are looking for lush grapes for Alter Ego that will release the aromas of fresh fruit. Harvesting and vinification decisions are made based on the idea that we have of the Chateau Palmer and Alter Ego style. Final blend tastings usually come to confirm our intuitions. The batches chosen for Alter Ego are then blended and put into barrels to age for 18 months. The fruitiness and aromatic intensity are preserved by the use of a moderate percentage of new oak barrels (25 to 40%).
There was a rough 60/40 split in terms of Palmer to Alter Ego in 2016 because it was a concentrated vintage and so suited the Palmer style – an interesting insight into how they blend. Alter Ego de Palmer Margaux 2016 is a little stricter than the typical Alter Ego, the pure and rich cassis fruit hitting you straight away, but the seduction comes through after a few moments in the glass, when ripe damson and grilled almonds appear.