Everyone who is slightly interested in the world of wine and its history, know Chateau Margaux. Several owners allowed it to evolve over time, the property has had its fair share of ups and downs. From la Mothe de Margaux in the 12th century to its incredible fame today, the atypical course of this Chateau is built on a history of exeptional richness. Therefore, it is one of the most prestigious Chateau of Bordeaux.
The remarkable history of Chateau Margaux
At its start, the Chateau was more about architecture than wine. As early as the 12th century, La Mothe de Margaux was already a property. Its name comes from its location, and its slightly tilted plane overlooking the Medoc plains.
The Lestonnac family, owners in 1572, reconstructed the property to create what we now know. At the end of the 17th century, its area covered the 265 hectares where it is still located today.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Berlon the manager, a true visionary of his time in the viticultural domain, modernized vinification. The reputation of the Premiers Crus continued to increase and spread in Bordeaux and even reached the United States. Thomas Jefferson, then a U.S. ambassador (1785-1789) – also one of the founding fathers of the Declaration of Independence and the future 3rd President, wrote about Chateau Margaux in 1784 that “there cannot be a better bottle of Bordeaux.”
At the beginning of the 1800’s, the Marquis de la Colonilla constructed the infamous castle. Louis Combe oversaw the creation of the Neo-Palladian styled architectural masterpiece, a style that was not popular in France. The year 1855, was a major turning point for the Chateau. Under the rule of Napoleon III- who wished to set up a ranking system in order to promote it at the Second Universal Exhibition in 1855- Chateau Margaux was ranked 1st Cru, the only Chateau to obtain a perfect score of 20.
While diseases decimated Bordeuax vineyards at the end of the 19th century (phylloxera), the 1893 vintage was the resurrection of the Château with an exceptional production. The harvest was so much more than expected, that there were not enough vats to contain all the grapes.
The beginning of the 1970’s was somber due to the recession. However, in 1977, a Greek, Andre Mentzelopoulos, decided to purchase the property. It is under his direction, then that of his daughter, Corinne, that we owe the exceptional wines of today. Andre Mentzelopoulos renovated the Chateau and invested heavily in modern wine making techniques. In 1980, Andre passed and his daughter then took over management of the Chateau, following the development policy that her father had incorporated.
With a wine and a name as prestigious as Chateau Margaux, counterfeiters try to make their profits. To fight against false bottles, Corinne Mentzelopoulos decided to launch a capsule of authenticity that would be installed on the caps in 2013. In 2015, Norman Foster, a renowned British architect, was commissioned to design new cellars combining tradition and modernity. Chateau Margaux has a great history, but is also prepared to take on the future.
Chateau Margaux: a terroir and exceptional know-how for one of the best wines of Bordeaux
Of the 265 hectares of the property, 78 hectares are dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc. The soil is ideal to accommodate the culture of the vines. Without its argilo-gravelly grounds, Chateau Margaux could not incarnate the rigour, the smoothness and the elegance of which it is best known for. Terroir was not enough, Chateau Margaux during its history counted on the incredible know-how of the people working on this exceptional wine. If the castle is what it is today, it is thanks to André Mentzelopoulos, and his daughter Corinne who indefatigably continues the work of her father, always with the objective of regularity and excellence. One cannot speak about know-how without evoking the late Paul Pontallier , without whom the wine would probably never have known such a perfection. He arrived in 1983 and held the General position of director starting in 1990. Now, Philippe Bascaules (ex-Director of exploitation of Margaux, of 1990 to 2011) is the General Director, assisted by Aurélien Valance (graduate of HEC, Executive Vice President of Margaux); this last mention is perhaps not unknown for those of you who follow the news of Millésima. Indeed, Aurélien Valance honoured us as one of the members of our jury for the 2017 edition of the Millésima Blog Awards.
Focus on Château Margaux’s wines
The extraordinary 1st wine of Margaux: fine, complex and persistent
The fame of the high-class wine of Chateau Margaux is long-lived. A rich soil and the product of meticulous work make it possible for the Chateau to offer nectars of exception since its creation. One can find everything that constitutes a high-class wine: smoothness, elegance, complexity, density, intensity, length and freshness. Tannins are always present with a grain of rare elegance. It is quite easy to fall under the charm and spell of Chateau Margaux.
Pavillon Rouge: the second wine with exceptional ageing potential
Initially marketed under the name of “Margaux Castle 2nd wine” until 1908 before its current denomination, the Pavillon Rouge of Château Margaux wasn’t produced for a long period of time (From the 1930’s until the mid-70s). Andre Mentzelopoulos’ arrival was crucial in 1977, with the aim of optimizing the maximum selection of the grapes constituting the 1st wine of the property. Since the creation of the third wine, the quality of Pavillon Rouge did not cease to increase and strongly approach its big brother without imitating it. If the complexity and the depth of the Margaux castle are incomparable, the flavours and balance between power and softness are indeed similar for the Pavillon Rouge. Ready to drink earlier than the Chateaux Margaux, it has an incredible potential for ageing for a second wine, sometimes being able to be aged for up to 30 years after its bottled.
Château Margaux also produces a white wine “Pavillon Blanc of Château Margaux”, a single-varietal of sauvignon blanc. This excellent product is produced in modest quantities because only one third of harvest is bottled. Its finish, complexity, richness and length in mouth can seduce any wine drinker.
Since 1997, the Chateau has continued to diversify. In order to improve the quality of its second wine, they’ve implemented the creation of Margaux du Château Margaux which is produced with the same care as the Pavillon Rouge.
Although, few people among us will have the occasion to taste the 1st wine of Château Margaux, the winners of the 2017 Millésima Blog Awards will be proud to taste it when they arrive for Futures week, from April 1st to April 7th, in Bordeaux. They will experience, accompanied by our jury member, Aurélien Valance, an exceptional moment with an exceptional wine.