Château Margaux, also known as La Mothe de Margaux, is one of the Bordeaux region's top wines. In the French wine classification of 1855, the Left Bank wine received First Growth status, one of only four estates at the time to do so. With a reputation for superior quality and consistency in producing gorgeous Bordeaux clarets, Château Margaux remains one of the world's most sought after and collectible wines in the world, with a price that matches its status.
Château Margaux is a French winery that has roots dating back to about 1400. While at one time the residence sitting on its property housed England's royalty, it has never stayed with any one owner very long. In the 1500s, owner Pierre de Lestonnac expanded the estate and turned grain fields into grape fields, planting grapevines throughout the estate. For many generations, the estate passed down through the family, often to the female descendants of Monsieur Lestonnac. During this time, the Lestonnac family made important alliances via marriage, including a mid-1600s alliance with the Pontac family, who owned another first growth wine estate, Château Haut-Brion. Many experts feel this alliance was the reason Château Margaux received its first growth status in the 1855 classification.
Changes of Ownership
After the French Revolution, the new French government executed the estate's owner and confiscated the estate. Thus began frequent changes of ownership. In 1925, Château Lascombes owner Fernand Ginestet purchased a significant portion of the estate, taking full ownership for his son,Pierre Ginestet, in 1949. M. Ginestet decided that only wines from superior vintages would have a listed vintage, and the estate would label all others as non-vintage. This was a temporary change, and new vintages have been released every year since 1952.
The original house on the property was lavish and castle-like, but it was torn down more than 200 years ago. Since then, a new and equally historic estate was built; it remains there today, designed by famous architect Guy-Louis Combes.
Mentzelopoulos Family Purchases the Château
By the late 1970s, a wealthy Greek family by the name of Mentzelopoulos purchased Château Margaux, and has been there ever since. The family decided to devote a large amount of money to reviving the Château Margaux winery and the quality of wine it produces. This family owned and operated the Château Margaux winery for many years, but has since sold it to a conglomeration of two large companies. However, it is still managed by a member of the Mentzelopoulos family.
The Grapes and Wines
Château Margaux clarets contain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Like other Left Bank wines, Cabernet Sauvignon remains in the highest concentrations in the wine. One of the unique aspects of this particular winery is the fact that human hands pick every grape from the vineyards. With this style of careful picking, it is extremely rare for a bad grape (either over-ripe or under-ripe) to make it into the wine processing area. The estate takes great care selecting and processing the grapes, which remains essential for ensuring a high-quality wine. With 650 acres of grapes grown on the estate, the winery produces and sells thousands of cases per year.
The first growth wines are deep red, concentrated wines with heavily structured tannins that can age for decades when the grapes come from a good vintage. Four vintages have received perfect 100 point scores from Wine Spectator: 1989, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Reviewers describe the wines as muscular with flavors of raspberries, violets, cherry, and black licorice.
Along with the first wine, Château Margaux Grand Vin, the winery also produces a second bottling with non-select grapes called Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, as well as a dry white Sauvignon Blanc called Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux.
Consistency and Quality
Like its other First Growth brethren, Château Margaux produces consistent high-quality wines. The market for First Growth Bordeaux clarets continues to grow throughout the world, and the price grows with it. This is due in large part to the collectibility of the wines. Wines from excellent vintages sell for several hundred dollars on release, and vintage bottles may sell for over $1,000 at auction. Some people purchase the bottles as investments, knowing they will be able to sell the bottles for a profit in the future. If you ever have the opportunity to taste a Château Margaux, take it. If you do, you will be tasting one of the world's finest wines.