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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.
1999/ Practically the same scenario as in 1998 was produced in 1999: an exceptional spell of fine weather during August, followed by a beginning of September which took the grapes to near-perfect ripeness levels, then heavy rain at the end of September which, by a few days, prevented the grapes from reaching the ripeness levels of great vintages and, like in 1998, caused a slight dilution. That was the case in 1999. In both cases, the wines were "almost" great vintages. It is clear that a period of fine weather in August is of crucial importance, whereas rain, even heavy rain, during the harvest is not necessarily a handicap. Château Margaux 1999 shows great finesse, intensity and aromatic complexity. The nose has both great purity and great classicism. On the palate, it has firstly delicacy and suppleness, then fatness and density, before finishing with great length, displaying the real power of the wine. (May 2011)
It was 1977, and young, 24-year-old Corinne Mentzelopoulos was very impressed as she stepped out to the bright white stairway of the palace that was built in the 19th century. They had just finished lunch that had taken place in a dark, ramshackle dining room. She could not yet foresee that as a result of the handshake between the two gentlemen on the stairs, her life would soon change. Her father, André Mentzelopoulos, became the first Greek winegrower in Bordeaux, as he bought the Château Margaux from Pierre Ginestet for 75 million francs. The historic estate had changed hands once again.
The estate has been occupied since at least the 12th century, but it was only with the arrival of the Lestonnac family in the 16th century that wine production became of particular importance, and in the 1570s Pierre de Lestonnac cleared many of the grain fields to make way for grapes. By 1700 the estate covered its present area of 265 hectares, and the 78 hectares devoted to vines has remained essentially unchanged since then.
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…
Today Corinne Mentzelopoulos, supported by her team led by Paul Pontallier, and following in her father André Mentzelopoulos' footsteps, devotes her time and energy to radiating her enthusiasm for this wine, whose name is synonymous with greatness, balance and harmony.
Pontallier drew most of his learning and production philosophy from Peynaud. Respect for the unique terroir of Margaux and applying this philosophy to wine in every unique year without the label of the wine maker represents Peynaud’s view that Pontallier has kept on honourably since Peynaud stepped aside from wine production in 1990.
The active and close co-operation between Pontallier and Mentzelopoulos has produced magnificent vintages: 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, and 2005. It remains to be seen how well the new generation can continue Corinne’s success in the history of the estate. It is certain that she is not stepping aside for a long time, but when she looks 50 years to the future, she says:
– Who knows what the world will be like then? I just hope my children are still around and are here managing the estate. But can things get much better for Margaux, when it already is in the minds of all wine lovers of the world? Should I keep my fingers crossed?
Soil: gravelly, clay-limestone
Production area: 82ha
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (at least 75%), Merlot (between 10 and 15%) and finally Petit Verdot (around 5%) and a little Cabernet Franc
Average age of vines: 36 years
Harvest method: hand picked
Winemaking: The wine is fermented in oak vats
Ageing: over 18-24 months in new French oak barrels
Tél. : +33 (0) 5 57 88 83 83
Fax. : +33 (0) 5 57 88 31 32