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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.
After a rainy start to the growing season, August and especially September were hot and dry. September in particular was exceptionally hot, which allowed the grapes to ripen in excellent conditions. (The picking began 20th September)
1966 is an outstanding year in Bordeaux for very classic and delicate wines. However, the year started out as anything but promising. The major rainfall that started at the end of June continued into July, but the hot start to August dried the soil and the weather gradually improved toward autumn, until it was nearly perfect for the harvest.
These wines share a truly classic, graceful and high-quality character so typical of Bordeaux wines, thus making them elegant and well balanced. Today many of these are still good. If carefully stored, many of the best wines may still mature, but the following rule of thumb should be observed: drink or sell them off immediately. In our opinion, this is one of the finest vintages that can be purchased today. Nearly all the AOC wines are still in excellent condition, and the top examples, such as the Palmer, Latour, Haut-Brion, Lafleur and Pétrus, are excellent. There is a wide selection of nicely priced First, Second and Third growth wines on the market. For example, the Cos d’Estournel, Calon-Ségur and Lynch-Bages offer an exceptional price-quality ratio. As a rule, a one hour decanting is sufficient.
Price trends for this vintage no longer show any significant upward movement – the increase in price over the past ten years has been around 55%. The rise in price will continue alongside the maturation of top wines perhaps until 2010, when any wines still surviving should be removed from the cellar and sold or drunk immediately.