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Since the 17th Century, the first wine of Château Margaux has been recognised as being one of the greatest wines in the entire world. It owes its unique qualities to the genius of its terroir as well as to the passionate work of a succession of generations. It’s a remarkable wine that comes from a combination of characteristics that are only rarely found: finesse, elegance, complexity, density, intensity, length and freshness. Although its tannic concentration may be exceptional, it’s rare to detect astringency.
The great vintages are distinguished by their formidable ability to move us. The lesser vintages give pleasure to wise enthusiasts. They offer the advantage of evolving very rapidly and, reveal, after a few years, instead of power, this subtlety that is the prerogative of great terroirs. Château Margaux has an extraordinary ability to evolve. Over the years, it has developed a finesse, an aromatic complexity and a remarkable presence on the palate.
Château Margaux has sought to achieve excellence in its wines for over 400 years now through painstaking and necessarily long studies of its terroir, through a constant desire to learn and innovate, by remaining sensitive to demanding markets, and above all through a passionate commitment that has been shared by the families that have succeeded each other at the estate. At the end of the 17th century, it became part of the nascent elite “First Growths” – long before being established officially by the Classification of 1855. Since then, Château Margaux has known fame and fortune, seeing by experience how ephemeral both are.
The estate has 200 acres under vine. Each plot and each variety are treated differently from pruning throughout the growing season. Chateau Margaux’ goal is to nurture and maintain vines for as long as possible, as they believe vines need to reach 20 years of age to produce great wine. The estate is constantly trying to understand through experimentation how to improve soil health and fruit quality. Today, no insecticides are used, there is an important balance of healthy insects to counter pests, and any number of experiments with ploughing, organic farming, and biodynamic applications are ongoing. A final key point to note, Margaux has for the last 30+ years had among the lowest yields in the Medoc.
The wine was aged for 15 months, in 10% new oak and 90% second use barrels. Because of the particularities of the vintage, Cabernet Sauvignon made up an extremely high 88% of the blend, with Merlot only 12% of the blend. Importantly, the wine is held in bottle until ready to drink, which may not mean that vintages are released sequentially.
Even before the beginning of the harvest, this vintage was acclaimed as "vintage of the century". It is true that in every part of France the summer had been exceptionally hot and dry in fact, not only Bordeaux but also Burgundy and Champagne had great success. The heat-wave during the harvest made the vinification difficult, and sometimes perilous, since few cellars at that time had equipment to cool the fermenting musts. It has sometimes been said that 1959 was the last great vintage of a bygone age; 1961 being the first one in the modern era. Château Margaux 1959 is really a great wine, with a powerful, complex, very fine and elegant bouquet but a little less profound and rich than the 1961. On the palate, it is very concentrated, powerful, but rather less long and less smooth than the 1961.
An exceptionally good summer brought the grapes to remarkable ripeness. It rained a little before the harvest, then the fine weather returned and got even hotter than before. (The picking began 24th September)
Bordeaux 1959 was proclaimed wine year of the century by overzealous journalists. Although it was a great year, it just wasn't the best year of the century. The year started with ideal weather conditions. The summer was perfect until the fall, when the rains arrived in mid-September. But the rains gave way to hot and dry weather, preparing a magnificent setting for the start of the harvest. The result was a truly ripe and juicy harvest. Reds are generally full-bodied, with mild acidity and an oily mouthfeel that comes from the high alcohol content. Although the vintage is generally compared to 1961, it has much in common with the 1949. The Sauternes vintage was also a success and the region produced very long-lived wines. Once again, Château Lafite-Rothschild was a complete success, sharing the title of best wine of the vintage with Haut-Brion. Hot on their heels are Pétrus, which must be decanted for at least three hours before drinking, and La-Mission-Haut-Brion.
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