Chateaux Margaux, located on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, is one of the five first-growth estates in the prized Medoc region of France. Since Margaux has been acknowledged as the greatest in its class since 1855, it has won over the hearts and wallets of wine connoisseurs for centuries (and even before – more on that later).
But becoming famous wasn’t precisely straightforward. The French Revolution, the Great French Wine Blight, and the Bordeaux market meltdown of the 1970s didn’t stop this illustrious estate from bouncing back. Chateaux Margaux, Pavillon Rouge du Chateaux Margaux, Pavillon Blanc, and Margaux du Chateaux Margaux are the four wines that Margaux now makes.
For generations, Bordeaux’s top winery has been Chateaux Margaux. The world has come to love this iconic First Growth, but there are some things you might not know about the ruler of the left bank. Here are ten things you should know about Château Margaux:
· It has a long history of being a superb wine superstar: Since it was recognized as one of the first First Growths in 1855 and was the only estate to receive a 20/20 rating, Margaux has been known as a top-tier wine. Although the estate dates to the 16th century, genuine oenophiles fell in love with it even earlier. The first “claret” to be included in Christie’s catalog was from the 1771 vintage.
· Quality over quantity: Each year, the estate produces about 10,000 cases of their Grand Vin, mainly using organic farming techniques. Each grape is hand-selected, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot make up the final blend. Egg white is a prime element that is used to clarify the wine—and matured for 18 to 24 months in new oak barrels.
· Four wines are produced: The estate also has a second wine called Pavillon Rouge du Chateaux Margaux and a third wine called Margaux de Chateaux Margaux, despite the fact that its (expensive) Grand Vin is its most well-known wine. The wine that followed, Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux, is a dry white that deviates from Margaux appellation rules.
· It is the only Bordeaux wine that carries the appellation name: The estate is located on land that was known as “La Mothe de Margaux,” or “the mound of Margaux,” in the 12th century due to its high elevation in the otherwise flat Medoc region.
· The property hasn’t changed much in centuries: While many Bordeaux properties have grown throughout the course of their existence, Margaux had primarily maintained the appearance that it did in the 1600s when the d’Alene family first began to cultivate their grapes. Approximately 350 years later, the vineyards have shrunk to around 80 hectares of vines from their 75 hectares in 1680.
· It used to spend years on the market: The Ginestet family held Chateaux Margaux in the early 1970s, a time when Bordeaux wine prices fell precipitously, and the estate underperformed significantly—its wines’ reputation actually took a severe hit. The family listed the home for sale due to rising debt, and it remained on the market for over two years before Andre Mentzelopoulos expressed interest. He ultimately paid $16 million for the property in 1977. Mentzelopoulos restored the reputation of Margaux by making significant investments in cutting-edge winemaking methods and hiring renowned consultant Emile Peynaud.
· Thomas Jefferson favored it: Thomas Jefferson lived in Paris while serving as the United States Minister to France before becoming president of the country. During that period, he established his wine hierarchy and placed Margaux at the top. There couldn’t be a more extraordinary bottle of Bordeaux, he said.
· The priciest bottle of wine ever created was never sold: In 1969, William Sokolin, a wine dealer, went to a Margaux dinner in New York and brought a bottle of Margaux 1787 from Thomas Jefferson’s personal cellar. The bottle was worth $500,000, but a server tipped it over during dinner, shattering its contents.
· It created the first anti-counterfeiting technique: One of the first estates to act forcefully against the problem of fake wines was Chateaux Margaux. It started laser-etching its bottles in 1989 and implemented the proof tag method in 2011, which uses a system of lights, algorithms, and electronic signatures to validate each bottle.
· It frequently shows up in popular culture: Edgar Allen Poe’s writings, motion pictures like Withnail and I, Arachnophobia, and Batman v Superman, also television programs like Downton Abbey and The Office all, mention the Margaux name. Even an opera bearing its name, written in 1887, was inspired by the wine. A comedy opera with the same name debuted in Spain in 2017, and an orchestral version was recorded in 2015.
Wine from Chateaux Margaux should not be consumed too young. The wine is typically excessively tannic, robust, and restrained during its youth. Young vintages can be decanted for anywhere between three and six hours on average. It enables the wine to mellow and release its aroma. Decanting older vintages may only be necessary to get the sediment out.
Chateaux Margaux typically tastes better at least 15 years in the bottle. Of course, depending on the vintage character, that can change a little. Following the vintage, between the ages of 18 and 60, Chateaux Margaux should attain its optimum maturity and provide the best sipping.
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