I was surprised to learn that Chateau Palmer the Margaux Second Growth has reinstated an old tradition that is no longer practised in Bordeaux. They have created Château Palmer Historical XIXth Century Blend which is a special cuvée created as an homage to the Hermitaged Bordeaux of the 19th century. Hermitaged Bordeaux refers to the practice of adding wines to the Bordeaux blend particularly in a poor vintage (this also happened in Burgundy). Chateau Palmer's Historical XIXth Century Blend is made from 85% of estate grapes from Palmer and 15% Syrah from Hermitage in the Northern Rhone. Thomas Duroux, winemaker at Palmer, explained that:
"Most of the great names of Bordeaux used to have a little bit of wine from the north of the Rhône to improve the colour and depth of the wine. They had to do this sometimes since they had difficult vintages. We now know how to deal with difficult vintages. But I was very curious to understand what would happen if we did [this] with the wine we have today."
The Historical XIXth Century Blend has been marketed in Japan, the USA and is soon to be released in France. As the wine was made outside the regional rules it can only be classified as the lowest French designation, "vin de table." Duroux even had to take the drawing of Château Palmer off his front label, since vin de table cannot, by law, have an illustration of a particular place on the label.
Apparently the wine is fuller and richer when compared to the usual Margaux style and shows more of the Syrah character. Of the 250 – 300 cases made, the chateau is holding back 50 cases for a minimum ten years to see if the wine changes back to show more of the Margaux character. Priced the same as Chateau Palmer ex-cellars, this isn’t your typical vin de table.