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The production of a second wine probably goes back to the beginning of the XVII century because it is inseparable from the search for excellence which started at that time. Sold under the name of “Château Margaux 2nd wine”, it took its permanent name of Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux in 1908. After an eclipse between the thirties and the mid-seventies, its production restarted on the arrival of André Mentzelopoulos in 1977 and at first greatly increased in order to improve the quality of the first wine. From the mid - 1990s, the creation of a third wine in its turn, allowed for a more and more rigorous selection for Pavillon Rouge. For a few years now, a third of the harvest has gone into the first wine, barely 30% into the Pavillon Rouge, and the remainder is divided between the third and fourth wines.
The quality of Pavillon Rouge has become very close to that of the first wine because all the plots involved contributed to the blending of Château Margaux not so long ago.
The 1996s stand as a “classic” Bordeaux year, although – as Jancis Robinson MW has written – not in the “skinny” sense; although Farr Vintners’ director, Tom Hudson, told the drinks business that it was perhaps a “very good” rather than a “truly great” year as it wasn’t uniformly excellent across the region.
By way of a recap, 1996 was a particularly sterling vintage for Médoc wines. The Berry Bros & Rudd website extolls: “This is one of the great post-war vintages for Médoc Cabernet-based wines. They are rich, complex and beautifully balanced wines, packed with ripe, pure fruit and have the structure that will allow the top wines to age well into the next decade and beyond.”
The Right Bank by contrast are described as “distinguished” but “overshadowed” by the ‘95s – which was an especially good vintage for Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
It was also an excellent vintage for white Bordeaux.
Robert Parker’s scores tend to favour the Left Bank, though a few of the very best wines of the Right Bank received very respectable reviews as well.
Only two wines received 100-points: Lafite and Latour, Margaux was rated 99, Léoville Las Cases 98, Ducru Beaucaillou 96 and Pichon-Comtesse 96.
La Mondotte was the highest rated Right Bank wine on 97-points, Ausone was the next best rated on 93 as was L’Eglise Clinet, while Gomerie, Petrus and Le Pin settled for 92 and Cheval Blanc for 90.
With the passage of nearly 20 years, the wines have naturally appreciated and now that they are well into their drinking window demand will almost certainly begin to push prices up even further for the most in-demand among them.
The figures are often impressive, to date Lafite has seen a rise of 657.9% since its release, its second wine Carruades is up 592%, Latour has risen 437%, Petrus 400% and Pichon Baron 240%.