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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.
Bordeaux 1981 /The small but high quality vintage of 1981 was overshadowed by the superb 1982. Hot, dry weather began from flowering and continued until September, when occasional rains occurred until until the harvest is completed in good conditions at the beginning of October. Generally speaking, the reds produced were elegant, moderately light and delicate wines in all appellations. The dry whites were of average quality and Sauternes was actually better than the following year 1982. Although this year is often considered modest, some good wines emerged. These include Margaux and Cheval Blanc.
The Bordeaux 1981 wine vintage received mixed reviews from the wine press and critics. It was a year characterized by variable weather conditions and uneven ripening, leading to wines of varying quality across different appellations and producers.
Variable Quality: One of the prevailing themes in reviews of Bordeaux 1981 was the highly variable quality of the wines. Some estates and appellations managed to produce wines of charm and balance, while others struggled with underripe grapes and less favorable conditions.
Tannic Structure: Many Bordeaux 1981 wines were noted for their tannic structure. The tannins were sometimes described as firm or astringent, suggesting that some wines would require extended aging to soften and develop complexity.
Early Drinking: While some Bordeaux 1981 wines were considered suitable for aging, others were recommended for earlier consumption. Critics often pointed out that certain wines were more approachable and enjoyable in their youth, with fruit-forward profiles.
Elegance and Finesse: Despite the challenges of the vintage, some Bordeaux 1981 wines were praised for their elegance and finesse. These wines were often seen as examples of the winemaker's skill in a challenging year.
Right Bank vs. Left Bank: There were distinctions between the wines of the Right Bank (Saint-Émilion and Pomerol) and the Left Bank (Medoc, Pauillac, etc.). Generally, the Right Bank wines were regarded as having performed better in 1981, with more consistent ripeness and structure.
Notable Producers: Certain Bordeaux estates and producers were highlighted for their success in the vintage. These wines were often considered benchmarks for Bordeaux 1981.
Aging Potential: While some Bordeaux 1981 wines were viewed as having the potential to age gracefully and improve with time, others were seen as wines best consumed in their prime to capture their youthful fruitfulness.
Overall Assessment: The general consensus was that Bordeaux 1981 was not a standout vintage on par with some of the region's legendary years. However, it was also not a uniformly poor vintage; there were good wines to be found for those who selected carefully.