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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.
For a number of years now, we have had a succession of great and very great vintages, surely proving that, at least so far, the weather conditions have particularly favoured the ripening of the Cabernet grapes. It shouldn’t be overlooked though, that this success has also been the result of more and more rigorous selection: in 2006, barely 36% of the crop went into the first wine, which will only be a third by the time it is bottled, after the unavoidable loss of the lees wine at each racking.
One single batch of Merlot, though of remarkably high quality, finally went into the blend, but it only represents 4% of the whole… It is the first time we have had so little. The Petit Verdot (4%) and the Cabernet Franc (2%) make up their usual proportions; they each bring added complexity that is difficult to define, but is most certainly a necessary contribution to the character of the wines of Château Margaux.
The Cabernet Sauvignon therefore takes up almost all of the place: 90%! It brings to the 2006 an extraordinary aromatic finesse, a tannic richness that is second only to the 2005; and a particularly dense and tight-knit texture. The finish is very long, fresh and lively, a little bit firm but already packed with flavour.
2006 is therefore a great Château Margaux vintage. Of course, it is not 2005, or 2000; those vintages are exceptional. But it does have both the grace and the purity of the 1996, the so classic freshness of the 2004 and the heady power of the 1986 or the 1995. Such balance is a brilliant expression of Château Margaux’s noble terroir. (February 2011)
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
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