Address: 33460 Margaux
Telephone: +33 (0) 5 57 88 83 83
The history of Château Margaux, stretching as it does to the twelfth century as ‘La Mothe de Margaux’ reads like a microcosm of French history over the same period – nobility, innovation, renaissance, then revolution, followed by renaissance, decline and renaissance again. Today, Château Margaux is an estate now at the height of its powers, one of the leading fine wine producers in the world. As a wine in the glass it is simply gorgeous and combines power and richness with Margaux complexity that is rarely trumped in the appellation.
The estate was run by Paul Pontallier until his death in 2016. Pontallier was unarguably one of the finest wine managers and winemakers in the world [he joined the estate in 1983], although Château Margaux owes its modern day preeminence to the late Andre Mentzelopolous, the Greek tycoon who bought the estate when it was down in the doldrums in 1977 from the Ginestet family. His first wine, the 1978, was a revelation and Château Margaux really hasn’t looked back since. Mentzelopolus himself died in 1980 and the estate has been run by his daughter Corrine with dedication ever since. In a winemaking world of technical hi-jinks and cellar chicanery, Château Margaux stands by tradition, not in a hard headed sense, but through thorough understanding of what works and what doesn’t over time. Fermention in oak fermenters not stainless steel, barrels topped for the first six months, traditional cellar racking – here lies the understanding and confidence that great wine is made in the vineyard – and that cellar techniques are there simply to help express this, not exaggerate it.
If the wines are wonderful, they now have prices to match. Save for Lafite and Latour [occasionally Mouton] there is no more expensive bottle Médoc. The grand vin in 2009 was released at £8000 [$12000] or so a case. But the wine, ah the wine….a sensational example of intensity and balance – and in a hot year it hits the scales at a refreshing 13.1 degrees. Pontallier and his team said it was then the finest young wine they have seen in the estate in thirty years – until the 2010 came along. I had the 1982 over a decade ago. It is one of the finest wines I can remember drinking from that great vintage. The second wine Pavillon Rouge is excellent and for a long time sure bet but has really leapt up in quality over the past five years or so as more and more of the grand vin is declassified into it. Since 2009 a third wine has also been released. Pavillon Blanc, the ultra premium 100% Sauvignon Blanc, is surely the best white in the Médoc, though it doesn’t come cheap and more complex and longer-living whites are available down in Pessac-Leognan of course….
The loss of Paul Pontallier in 2016 was a very great blow to the world of wine as well as Château Margaux itself. He was a tireless ambassador for the property and of the wine of Bordeaux. Charming and erudite, Paul will be sorely missed. The exceptional 2015 vintage is a fitting tribute to the man.
Vineyard/Soil: 80 hectares devoted to red varieties [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot] and 12 hectares devoted to Sauvignon Blanc. Selection in the vineyard and at the chais.
Winemaking/Elévage: Vinified in mostly wooden fermenters 18-26 months barrel ageing depending on the vintage with pumping over.Seven to ten rackings depending on the length of time in wood, performed under air pressure and then via candle. Barrels [one third of which are made on a cooperage established on the property] come from a diversity of forests and toasts. The barrels are topped for the first six months.
- 2015 Deep and beautiful looking; lovely vibrant purple edge; beautiful, pure fruit; sense this will be very harmonious indeed; more blackcurrant cassis notes unfurl from the glass; very seductive stuff; wonderfully balanced on the palate; seductive fruit tones continue; elegance and intensity; tannin at the end is wonderfully ripe. This is potentially perfect Margaux. No better tribute to the great Paul Pontallier. [87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2045. 98-100.
- 2014 Mid depth; legs; earthy purple at edge; stalky blackcurrant; some graphite; briary tones; fresh and quite layered; nice fragrance; mineral, taut and concentrated on the palate with fresh acidity; some chew and texture; lacks a bit of mid palate richness but will doubtless fill out. Nice length on the finish. I’m probably underrating this at present – let’s see. [90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2022-2035. Tasted at Ch Margaux 31 March, 2015. 93-95+
- 2013 Deep at core; colour close to the edge; pretty purple; attractive purity of blackcurrant fruit; quite scented and aromatic with genuine violet perfume; very Margaux; real delicacy; elegant and balanced on the palate, light; with soft tannin, a little density and good-ish length. Has purity and delicacy. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Tasted April 2014. Drink 2018-2030. 91-93
- 2012 Mid depth; healthy looking; perfume; cassis and blackcurrant from the Cabernet; layers and perfume here; violets and depth; layered and tight yet ripe on the palate; density but not dry tannin; very precise and focused with structure; very fine tannins; very nice length; very good purity overall and far, far better than 2011 here; 100% new oak but not at all noticeable. Very good length indeed. 87% Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 95-96+ Tasted at the chateau Thursday April 11, 2013. Drink 2020-2030+
- 2011 Deep and saturated; creamy note; polished and perfumed; seam of black cherry fruit; focus here, elegance; quite spiky cabernet; chewy with density. Structured and quite tannic on the palate; more obviously so than past couple of vintages here. Very good wine and nicely handled. Not the ‘wow’ factor of ’09 or ’10 though. Expect it to improve during elevage though. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 13.1% alc 93-95+ Drink 2020-2030+
- 2010 Deepish colour with some maturity at the rim; spot on Cabernet aromatics; wonderful Bordeaux; lifted and elegant with real perfume; satiny blackcurrant purity on the palate; intense blackcurrants and spices; lovely palate – this is another beautiful Margaux to rival the 2009 – there is extract and matter here but it is all in proportion. Excellent length on the finish. Perfect surely? Drink 2018-2045+ 100 MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and dense but a very polished look; real vibrancy in the glass; blackcurrants, perfume, violets, layers to the nose and wonderfully cool; extremely seductive, the most beautiful aroma of all the first growths in 2010; palate very precise and deep; layered; lots of power here, hidden by the nimble acidity; intensity in the acid not the tannin; very long and elegant finish. Pure. Superb. 98-100/100 Drink 2020-2045+ Tasted at Ch. Margaux April ’11
- 2009 Deep with dark core; fresh looking; wonderfully attractive aromatics – a medley of blackcurrant fruit and floral tones; nice lift and extremely flattering; real depth and intensity to the palate, this is a great as I remember it [tasted twice before during elévage]. Blackcurrant fruit dominates the palate; real seam of rich fruit; very, very complete with harmony and roundness to the tannins. Perfect wine surely? Already a beauty, this will develop well over the long term. Drink now-2040. 100 MW Institute, Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Dense, concentrated look; legs; very clean and very fresh; very polished for such a young wine; pure and pretty; red fruits, cassis and blackcurrants here; very layered nose; real concentration and power on the palate but held in check by a surprising elegance. Soft, ripe tannins, very attractive and pure. Excellent length. Not an obvious powerhouse but then this is Margaux. Dense and pure with amazing focus and deceptive elegance. I didn’t have the benefit of tasting the ’05 Margaux at the same age, but this is a wine for me that is approaching perfection. 98-100/100 Tasted 1st April 2010. Drink 2019-2040+
- 2008 Mid depth; some subtle layers and depth with leaf and tobacco notes; some smoked meat; nice intensity on the palate; some spice and grip too. [Second tasting much earthier, quite sexy nose; nice marriage of oak and fruit; better than ’07 here; leaf and spice; elegant palate with some grip – acid]. 93+ Drink 2015-2030 MW Institute Nov ’12
- 2007 Mid depth; some spice and lift; fresh blackcurrant, some tobacco; some resin and camphor notes but lacks the apparent depth of Lafite and Mouton on the nose; spicy blackcurrants on the palate; velvet quality; much better palate; elegant and balanced. Pretty composed, elegant style. 92/100 Drink Now-2025 MW Institute Nov ’11
- 2006 Concentrated and deep looking with life; wonderfully pure, lifted nose; very intense with blackcurrants and cassis but wonderful purity here; hits you in the face – some sweet oak behind but this is very well done. Palate very rich, lots of fruit but extract and tannin too. Palate is just a bit dominated by its oak relative to the other first growths; very good length and extract; feels quite tannic and tight on the palate. I imagine this will come round as the nose suggests fab quality but palate obviously backward and closed. 94-96/100 Drink 2018-2030 MW Institute Nov ’10
- 1994 Dark; elegant, good structure; extract black fruits on palate; blackcurrants; tight knit; not lean but not enormous mid palate richness in this vintage. 91/100 Barrel sample at Chateau Oct ’95. Drink now
- 1988 Dark black /red; intense resinous notes; blackcurrants with VA lift; intense and concentrated wine; some coarseness at the back and finishes a trifle short. 90/100 Apr ’08 Drink now
- 1982 Dark; still amazingly youthful; close to edge, opaque at centre; intense nose. Some tobacco, spice and earth; leather; dense and enormous palate; tannic with concentrated ball of dense, intese fruit. Great length. Monumental. Will improve for ten years and last fifty. 98/100 Apr ‘96. Drink now
- 1957 Mahogany; some tobacco, tea and leather on the nose but faded; some structure to the palate but more of a curiosity. Elegant and light with some tobacco and spice. Faded. 80/100 Apr ’96
Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux
- 2015 Deep colour; fresh; lovely aromatics; very voluptuous; sweet, creamy blackcurrant cassis; very opulent; seductive; tremendous aromatics for Pavillon; some stony elements; very intense palate; a real coiled spring; no second wine this; very precise indeed; nice length; some warmth at the end. Very complex. [74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc.] Drink 2022-2035. 94-96
- 2014 Mid depth; lively look; purple at edge; nice pretty fruit; blackcurrant and black fruit; perfume – nicely dome; elegance; nicely composed palate; fresh acids; fuller than ’08; structured but open; traditionally styled; nicely handled tannins; good finish. [77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc, 50% new oak]. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted at Ch Margaux 31 March, 2015. 90-91+
- 2013 Mid depth; light earthy purple at edge; some cherry and a little plum and bubble gum tones; light and quite tight on the palate but well made and polished as you’d expect. Little austere on the finish. [84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2017-2026. 86-88 Tasted at Ch. Margaux April ’14
- 2012 Deep saturated colour; glossy; pretty nose; very attractive fruit tones; some spice, some polish and minerality; nice layers to the nose; little cherry too; sweet entry on the palate; round and nicely balanced; creamy notes; nice bite and balance. Very good effort. Quite structured and tannins very mannered and precise. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot 1% Cabernet Franc. 91-93+ Tasted at the chateau Thursday, April 11, 2013. Drink 2020-2030
- 2011 Saturated earthy purple; some perfume and spices; cream and polish; quite structured and chewy; grippy with noticeable acid. Fresh. Little bit of oak tannin on the finish. 89-91 Drink 2018-2030 Tasted Ch. Margaux April ’12
- 2010 Lovely density in the glass; creamy and blackcurrant notes; very open; cherry too, freshness; very focused and layered; nice entry, very pure and attractive; really sublimated but in equilibrium in its parts; harmonious and not at all forced. Great length. Amazing quality here this year. 94-96+/100 Drink 2020-2035+ Tasted Ch. Margaux April ’11
- 2009 Deep and dense right up to the rim; legs; very attractive red fruits, raspberry notes; real ripeness; rich and dense with wonderful layers of flavour; very supple on the palate; soft ripe tannins; density here and power yet with elegance. Very good wine indeed. 92-94/100 Tasted 1st April 2010. Drink now-2035+ Tasted Ch. Margaux April ’10
Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux
- 2015 Brilliant looking; polished silver; very fine aromatics; sea salt and mineral tones; appetizing and clean as a whistle; lees influence on the palate; medium bodied with real zing; saline twist again on the end. Lovely stuff. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 10,000 bottles made]. Drink 2019-2025. 93-95+
- 2014 Pales straw with fleck of green; oyster shell; citrus; grapefruit and zest with some white flower highlights; bold palate; weighty but with real concentration; candy; lemon peel; really zappy finish with great length. Some lees notes. Best Pavillon Blanc I’ve had? Quite possibly. Great concentration allied to remarkable freshness. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 13.9% alc; 25% new oak, all barrel fermented; 1000 cases made]. Drink 2019-2028. 93-95+
- 2013 Steely green/silver; grapefruit and passionfruit tones; zesty and attractive; good energy and drive on the palate. Balanced. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Drink 2016-2020. 91-93+ Tasted Ch. Margaux April ’14
- 2012 Palest green/silver; candy, pear drops; full; little spice; some floral qualities; palate refreshing with some weight; nice balance; some lees influence; very measured; spice; some grapefruit; some ginger and zap at the end. Good acidity. Intense. 1000 cases. 29 hl/ha. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% new oak and 9 months in barrel. 91-93+ Tasted at the Chateau Thursday April 11, 2013
- 2010 Pale straw; mineral, fresh and wonderful purity; real grand cru quality here this year; very precise and focused nose; some wax; quite taut but with soft edges; candy and freshness; lovely finish; real concentration and life; not a trace of oil. Wonderful. 93-95+/100 Drink now-2020 Tasted Ch. Margaux April ’11
- 2009 Pale straw; fresh and clean, wonderfully exotic notes – citrus, cashew and grapefruit in a restrained style. Concentrated palate; lively dense; again citrus and grapefruit, minerals and a little waxy note. Very good. 92+/100 Tasted 1st April 2010 Drink now -2019