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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.
2008/ No vintage since 2005 has had glorious weather during the month of August; still, every year, the grapes have ripened (particularly those in the great terroirs), thanks to fine weather in September. But other positive factors might not be obvious: in 2008 the July drought and the nice weather from mid-September onwards probably limited the consequences of the regular and light August showers.
As always it is our drastic selection which brings out the true spirit of a vintage. 2008 is no exception to the rule. The first wine only represents 36% of the crop (31% at bottling, once the wine has lost its lees due to the rackings during the ageing in barrel). Each grape variety plays its harmonious part in the blend: our best Merlot (10%) brings more power, fatness and flesh than it did in 2006 or 2007; the Cabernet Sauvignon (87%)
is as usual the heart and the soul of the wine. Not forgetting the Cabernet Franc (1.5%) and the Petit Verdot (1.5%) whose modest presence does not truly reflect their influence in the blend.
The 2008 is a very fine Château Margaux, it displays a nose of great finesse and purity, and it is as deep and charming as the 2004. What really amazes us is its power on the palate: we never expected such density, length and richness. The tannins are superb! They give the Château Margaux 2008 a very tight-grained texture, wonderful length, and a more classic personality than previously thought. (May 2010)
After quite a dry winter, spring was cool and damp; in fact it was so chilly at the beginning of April that we used our anti-frost sprays on April 7th at Virefougasse, our Sauvignon Blanc plot. May was particularly wet, which heightened the risk of downy mildew at a time when the vines were most vulnerable, so that for the second year in a row, we had to carefully monitor the health of the vines. Nevertheless we continued our research on alternative solutions to chemical sprays; the conditions provided us with an ideal opportunity to do so. The flowering began at the very beginning of June, right on the normal date, although it was partly affected by heavy rains, which were no doubt responsible for the coulure and millerandage observed in some of the Merlot plots. Also, the vines showed fewer potential grapes than last year, so we knew that we were in for a smaller crop. The weather was cool throughout the summer, with temperatures around two degrees below average in July, August and September. July, however, was very dry with barely 10 mm (0.4 of an inch) of rain, whereas in August and up till September 15th, it rained regularly. This chilly and humid weather slowed the colour transformation of the grapes and their ripening process while it gradually affected our spirits… And then, another miraculous turnaround occurred. The weather changed radically mid-September, and fine and dry days set in for an entire month, right until the end of the picking! (The picking started on October 3rd)
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