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White wine production at Château Margaux goes back to the end of the XVII century. The cellar master at that time recounts how he was one of the first to separate the white grapes from the red during the vinification. Sold in the XIX century under the name « Château Margaux vin de sauvignon », it has existed under the brand name « Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux » since 1920 and its label has not changed since that date.
The eleven-hectare vineyard is composed only of Sauvignon Blanc. It is situated on a very old plot of the Estate that had long since been planted with red vines and then been dug up because of the high risk of spring frosts. Production techniques, as well as the selection have been completely reviewed since the years 2009/2010 in order to reach a higher level of excellence; only 1/3 of the harvest is bottled, the remaining 2/3 is sold loose. So the quantity of Pavillon Blanc has been greatly reduced and isn’t more than one thousand cases. Today it benefits from the new wine cellar’s ultra-modern installations designed by Norman Foster.
The finesse, complexity, richness and the length in the mouth of Pavillon Blanc are incomparable for a wine produced from 100% Sauvignon. The very latest vintages, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in particular, have opened up new horizons in quality, ageing capacity and style which has become more mineral and much more complex. A significant part of the harvest is bottled in magnums which create optimum ageing conditions.
As in 2006 and 2007, the chilly and damp weather conditions worked in favour of the Sauvignon Blanc’s aromatic expression; but the nice weather arrived too late and didn't allow the grapes to reach the same record levels of concentration, in spite of a low yield of 25 hectolitres per hectare. The three sortings we did in each of our plots turned out an average alcoholic degree of over 14, one degree less than in 2006 and of course 2007.
Nor did that short spell of fine weather enable all the plots to achieve perfect ripeness. Subtle differences could easily be noticed between different terroirs and between younger and older vines, so we had to carry out a drastic selection, only keeping 45% of the crop. 2008 will therefore be the smallest vintage we have ever produced.
Such severe measures have allowed the making of a wine that is close in quality to the previous vintages. Although less powerful than the 2007, the 2008 is fresher and perhaps more balanced. It has incomparable finesse, subtlety and aromatic complexity, proof of the perfect ripeness of the grapes we brought in. Great terroirs usually express their true personality in such borderline conditions. (January 2011)