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|05/25/2010 Gala dinner on the Great Wall of China|
On the 22nd of May 2010, in collaboration with one of the largest auction houses specialising in wine sales, Château Margaux organised a gala dinner on the Great Wall of China. This unforgettable evening took place at Juyongguan, one of the renovated sections of the Great Wall, situated a few dozen kilometres from the centre of Beijing. At nightfall, the winding illuminated Great Wall heralded the exceptional character of the evening that was about to unfold. In order to pay homage to this heritage, seventy-three guests, among them the greatest wine collectors in Asia, convened to take part in this unique event. Fourteen vintages of Château Margaux were served, perfectly combined with dishes conceived and prepared by Guy Savoy, three-star chef in the Michelin Guide. Our guests were able to taste legendary vintages such as Château Margaux 1953, 1959, 1961, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2003. With the objective of demonstrating our support for the protection of the Great Wall, five unique lots were put up for auction on May 29th, in Hong Kong, during the largest wine auctions organised in Asia. All profits from the sale of the Château Margaux lots went to the China Great Wall Society, an association whose main mission is to look after the conservation of the Great Wall. Château Margaux has always been sensitive to the preservation of the most beautiful architectural sites around the world. In fact, the Château itself and the surrounding buildings were classified as historical monuments in 1946.
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.
Winter was quite cold and dry, causing some delay in the budding. Mixed weather conditions in the spring made the flowering process uneven and caused a little coulure in some of the older Merlot plots. Yet, as always, the great terroirs appear to have set their own agenda and ignored the vagaries of the weather, enjoying a fast and homogenous flowering process with perfect results. Then again, the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is so well suited to these lands, is not very prone to coulure. From the end of June until the last grapes were harvested in October, we experienced, once again, the type of drought typical of great Bordeaux vintages. Indeed, while on the one hand, the vines were spared any excess of water, thereby preventing unwanted foliage, they benefited from just enough moisture to favour ripening as well as enhance concentration in the grapes. While the 2010 weather conditions were reminiscent of 2009 and 2005, vintages are never completely alike. The summer of 2010 was as dry as 2009, yet cooler. The absence of extreme heat combined with cool nights compensated for the drought and probably allowed some of the great terroirs’ young plants to reach a new quality threshold. It also favoured the aromatic character in all grape varieties, particularly in Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet and enabled the maintenance of excellent acidity levels – the perfect foil for high levels of alcohol. (The picking began on 22nd September)
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
Drought and cool temperatures contribute to optimal ripeness
The sum of summer temperatures in 2010 was close to that of summer 2009 (962°C compared to 982°C), but decidedly chillier than those of 2005, which totalled 1052°C. These cool temperatures had a substantial influence on the balance of our wines, preserving a good level of acidity and attractive aromatic freshness.
Very little rainfall (only 267 mm) from March to August 2010 generating a drought of similar intensity to that of 2005, when only 227mm of rain fell.
Another feature of the 2010 vintage is the low temperatures above all in the first three weeks of August, which made for the preservation of good levels of acidity in the grapes while also maintaining attractive aromatic freshness.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price