Château Margaux

Ch. Margaux is one of Bordeaux’s most historic and famous estates. The only classified First Growth in Margaux, it epitomises the appellation’s elegance, while producing wines with fantastic ageing potential.

Château Margaux

About the producer

Château Margaux’s roots date back eight centuries. The Margaux site was originally used as a fortress, constructed close to the Gironde River to protect against invasion.

Ch. Margaux has 82 hectares under vine. The oldest vines in operation today are more than 85 years old. The terroir of Margaux is distinct due to its much finer granules of gravel compared to the more northern appellations of Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe.

These deep gravel soils are ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon which dominates the plantings, with over 75% of plantings at the estate. The main vineyards are spread around the château – including two prized, historic plots called Enclos and Puch Sem Peyre.

While there are a lot of gravel soils in the Médoc, the particular gravels at Puch Sem Peyre are of a different geological period than any other in the Médoc, giving the grapes grown on this site a unique expression. It is always windy there, which protects the grapes against disease, any extreme heat and most importantly against frost. Even in the warm 2003 vintage, the wine from the site remained fresh and moderate in alcohol. In 1991 when the whole of Bordeaux was devastated by frosts, the hill of Puch Sem Peyre was unaffected. It is a little-known fact that the 1991 Ch. Margaux is made entirely from the Puch Sem Peyre plot.

Not only have the perimeters of their vineyards stayed the same for over 500 years, they were also precisely documented in a book written by the vignerons of the Margaux estate in 1710. The book still exists today at the château, explaining each of the different plots on the property as well as providing a guide to dealing with each plot under different vintage conditions, including advice on viticultural procedures.

Merlot plantings represent 25% of the estate’s vineyards while 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot make up the rest of the red grape plantings. The estate also has 11 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, on the gravelly limestone plateau of Vire Fougasse in Soussans, which has a cooler microclimate. Grapes grown here are used for Pavillon Blanc du Ch. Margaux – arguably Bordeaux’s finest Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaking today is headed up by Philippe Bascaules who returned from Napa’s Inglenook estate in 2017, after previously working under the tutelage of Paul Pontallier at Margaux.

Ch. Margaux employs over 300 people during the harvest. The grapes are hand-picked and then undergo a second sorting at the winery. The red wine is made in a mixture of large wooden and stainless steel vats ranging in size to enable plot-by-plot fermentation. Following fermentation, the red wine is aged for 18-24 months in new oak barriques. The majority of the barrels come from Margaux’s own cooperage.

As well as the Grand Vin, a second wine – Pavillon Rouge du Ch. Margaux – is made and, unusually for the appellation, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc white wine called Pavillon Blanc du Ch. Margaux.

Ch. Margaux today has never been stricter in their selection for the Grand Vin and the Pavillon Rouge. For example, in the 1982 vintage, 75% of production of the 82-hectare estate was going into the Grand Vin; today it is closer to 30%.

Between 2008 and 2009, the price of the Pavillon Rouge tripled due to the opening up of the Chinese market. With this huge increase in price on the secondary market, Paul Pontallier believed that for the wine to live up to its price tag, their selection had to be even stricter, reducing the production of Pavillon Rouge by half and introducing a fourth selection stage to production. Yields were also greatly reduced from an average of 55hl/ha to 40.

Today, 30% of production goes into the Grand Vin, 25% into Pavillon Rouge, 20% into their third wine (Margaux du Ch. Margaux) and the remaining 25% or so is sold off in bulk.

Rigorous selection is also key to the quality of the white wine. The 50-year-old Sauvignon Blanc vines produce between 15-25hl/ha of which two thirds won’t make the final blend. This is because the estate wants to produce a wine with a certain flavour profile, avoiding the vegetal character of earlier-picked Sauvignon Blanc, while retaining high acidity to give the wine freshness and ageability. After extensive tasting of the tanks, overtly vegetal, tropical or slightly flabby wine is sold off in bulk.

On arrival at the winery, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes are immediately whole-cluster pressed. Fermentation begins in stainless-steel, with the wine then moved to finish fermentation in oak, of which a third is new. Malolactic fermentation is blocked and the wine is aged in oak on its lees for seven to eight months before bottling.


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