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    now to 2050
  • Food Pairing

    Butterflied leg of lamb

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The Story

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.






Wine Information

Chateau Margaux, August 2003 - September 1st, 2003
The first Sauvignon blanc juices have shown, as we would have expected, very high levels of sugar, with a potential alcoholic degree approaching 14°. We are now somewhat used to this level of sugar, since it has almost become the general rule over the last few years. At Chateau Margaux, the primary aromas are fine, delicate but discreet; on the whole typical of a hot year. The total acidity is very low. The first figures, based of course on our grape samples taken over the last two weeks, are both baffling and exciting (..)

Chateau Margaux, September 8th, 2003

But what do we mean by the ripeness of the grapes? We ask ourselves this question over and again every year, and invariably, (dare I say it?), the answer changes... At Chateau Margaux, this year, anyway, it is neither the concentration of sugar, which has been at very high levels for several weeks now, nor the acidity of the must, which is at historically low levels, which are the best parameters to take into account. It is not even the taste of the grapes, whose vegetal character (generally an excellent indicator of the ripeness of Sauvignon Blanc grapes) disappeared very early this year, perhaps burnt away by the scorching sun of the first two weeks of August (..)

Chateau Margaux September 16th, 2003

What a fantastic weather! The Merlot is an absolute joy to pick and will be finished tomorrow. The grapes are coming in baked by the sun at record sugar levels and -pleasant surprise- with good acidity. Will we ever understand the subtle physiological mechanisms at play during the ripening process? Even the colour, which some gollmy forecasters said would be poor, has turned out to be good (..)

Chateau Margaux September 18th, 2003

Today, we have something of a dilemma at Chateau Margaux, albeit a pleasant one. The Cabernets are magnificent, and all the known analytical parameters (sugar, acidity, anthocyanins, tannins) show an optimal level of ripeness; even their taste, full of flavour and free of any vegetal character, seem to confirm what the figures, which we never dare trust
completely, are indicating. And yet... in the way they look, in their consistency, in their insolent good health, they seem to have something about them that suggests they are, as yet, unfinished, hot ready, perfectible.

Chateau Margaux September 25th, 2003

Since Monday, at Chateau Margaux, we have been picking the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Petit Verdot, which have both reached a state of ripeness that we had not dared hope for just a few days ago. At this rate, which is faster than usual (but understandably so, with the very low yields), we should be finished by next Monday (..)

Chateau Margaux September 29th, 2003
The harvest will be finished today at Chateau Margaux. We have finally arrived at the last Cabernet grapes, which are still very healthy, even riper and maybe better (..) This morning we tasted all the Merlots, which have now finished their alcoholic fermentation. As in 2000, the yeasts had a little bit of trouble digesting (in the strict sense of the term) the last few grams of sugar. There is no doubt that the high alcoholic degree, up to 14° and 14.5°, affects their metabolism, The incredible richness of tannin, which was even greater than in the 2000 vintage, perhaps also had an inhibiting effect. In any case, these Merlots are simply fantastic! They are so rich, so complex and have great finesse, too. Who would have believed that such an atypical, hot summer would produce such fabulously classic wines?


Vintage 2003

2003 was the hottest vintage ever seen in Bordeaux. The most successful châteaux have passed their exceptional 2000s and some claim to have made their greatest wines in living memory.

Very dry and extremely hot summer days and nights (16 days > 95°F compared to 2 in 2000, 6 in 2005, 4 in 2009). Need to eliminate the superscript here. I can't figure out how to do it.) The deeply colored reds, low acidities and high tannins are a departure from the classic Left Bank profile. St.-Estèphe and Pauillac are the most successful. The reds have largely reached their peak. It remains a controversial vintage, with opinions sharply divided as to its intrinsic quality. The white grape harvest began in mid-August. Rich, fatty whites, some acidified, not for long storage.

The extreme summer heat presented winemakers with a significant challenge. Sugar levels increased dramatically in late summer as some growers took the plunge and harvested early to preserve acidity. However, winemakers who waited until their grapes were fully ripe were rewarded with rich, concentrated, dark-colored wines displaying astonishing depth of fruit and plenty of complexity.

Generally speaking, the great wines of 2003 come from the northernmost communes of the Médoc: and in particular from Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. Highlights include Lafite, Latour, Pichon Baron, Montrose and Cos d’Estournel. Quality was more uneven in the south of the Médoc although Château Margaux, true to form, produced one of the wines of the vintage.

The right bank properties of St Emilion and Pomerol, where temperatures were even warmer, produced inconsistent wines and volumes were massively reduced. Vieux Château Certan, which usually produces 4,000 cases per year, only produced 800 last year. Estates that have resisted this model and produced exceptional wines include Figeac, Ausone, Fetyit Clinet and Angelus.

Graves and Pessac-Lèognan fared better, but many châteaux produced wines that were alcoholic and expansive, but lacked the fresh, linear fruit core that distinguished the best of 2003. The exceptions are Haut-Bailly, the powerful and concentrated Domaine de Chevalier, and of course the thoroughbred stable of wines from Haut-Brion and La Misson Haut-Brion.


Average Bottle Price

2024 2020 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
655€ +11.6% 587€ +14.9% 511€ +4.5% 489€ +4.7% 467€ -2.3% 478€ -33.7% 721€ -6.1% 768€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Tasting note







Written Notes

We also raided the cellar for some DRC and Leroy amongst others, but it was crowded in there, so no additional notes, sorry. My favorite wine of this lunch was the 2003 Margaux, although I will admit the crowd favored Lafite by 3 to 1! Manuel noted in the Margaux, ‘tobacco and coffee.’ The plus in my rating was for deliciousness as opposed to potential, as the ’03 Margaux was spilling out of its shirt. It was very forward, with the full sex appeal of 2003 on display. Hints of garden, chocolate and pine set the stage for a wine with intense character. This was not another floozy from 2003, as many want everyone to believe. There was excellent acidity in this rock star wine (95+).
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Margaux, Bordeaux

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Fake factory


Inside Information

Wine Advocate #152
Apr 2004
Robert M. Parker, Jr. (96-100) Drink: 2012 - 2040 $495-$1900
In an appellation that was not nearly as homogeneous in quality as Pauillac and St.-Estephe, manager Paul Pontallier has produced a prodigious 2003 Chateau Margaux that, qualitatively, towers over all the other Margaux estates. From yields of only 30 hectoliters per hectare, it includes 45% of the total crop, and spiritually as well as stylistically, represents a hypothetical blend of the 1990 and 1996. Opaque purple-colored, with an extraordinary perfume of spring flowers, blueberries, black currants, licorice, and vanillin, this 2003 exhibits an opulent texture, tremendous structure as well as definition, and an ethereal lightness of being despite its prodigious concentration. As the wine sits in the glass, notions of white chocolate and flowers come forth. The attack suggests the 1990, but the finish recalls the 1996. Phenomenally pure, and medium to full-bodied, but surprisingly light in terms of its palate impression, its aftertaste lasts well beyond one minute. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2040.
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