Location and surface area of the Château Margaux vineyard
Beaming beyond French borders, Château Margaux is an illustrious reference and is poised among the finest references in Margaux, the emblematic appellation of the left bank of Bordeaux.
What is the history of Château Margaux?
A history that harks back to the 12th century
As early as the 12th century, the property was known as "La Mothe de Margaux", as the Médoc was a flat region. This period marked the increase in trade between France and England, whose King, Richard the Lionheart, enjoyed drinking Bordeaux wines at his social gatherings and banquets.
A first expansion from the 16th century
Between 1572 and 1582, Pierre de Lestonnac became the owner of Château Margaux and carried out major restructuring work on both the property and its vineyards. This was a decisive period for the Médoc region, which started to replace cereal crops with vineyards.
At the end of the 17th century, Château Margaux comprised the same surface area as today, i.e. 265 hectares, a third of which was dedicated to vine growing. The rise in trade with countries like England and the Netherlands contributed to the recognition of the estate's wines well beyond French borders.
Major technical innovations from the 18th century onwards
Driven by a constant quest for excellence, Château Margaux produces fine wines from a great terroir and also thanks to many technical innovations that guarantee an utterly precise vinification process.
These developments were instigated at the beginning of the 18th century by Berlon, the estate's manager. A visionary man, he knew the soils of the estate perfectly and identified the best plots. Until then, the harvest had been carried out at dawn, but from then on it was carried out a few hours after sunrise, so that the dew covering the grapes would not dilute their phenolic potential (colour and tannins). In addition, he initiated the separate vinification of red and white grapes.
A pivotal period in the 18th century
Enjoying a growing recognition in the United Kingdom, Château Margaux extended its reputation across the Atlantic. Thomas Jefferson, the American ambassador to France, described the 1784 vintage of Château Margaux using the following terms: "there can be no better bottle of Bordeaux".
Aware of the potential of his vineyard, Joseph de Fumel, owner of the estate in the middle of the 18th century, chose the best plots of the property and planted a selection of particularly qualitative grape varieties.
Sold at auction by the revolutionaries as a national asset, Château Margaux was later acquired by Laure de Fumel, the last descendant of the Lestonnac family. Due to the difficult years following the French Revolution, Laure de Fumel had no choice but to put the property up for auction in 1801.
The renaissance from the 19th century onwards
A new page was turned in 1801 following the acquisition of the property by Bertrand Douat, aka the Marquis de la Colonilla. Originally from the Basque country, he initiated the construction of the château and the current farm buildings in 1810, under the direction of the famous Bordeaux architect, Louis Combes.
Not very interested in wine production, the Marquis de la Colonilla's children sold the estate in 1830 to Alexandre Aguado, a wealthy banker.
In the official classification of 1855, requested by Emperor Napoleon III for the second Universal Exhibition, Château Margaux obtained the title of "Premier Grand Cru Classé". It was the only one of the four First Growths presented to have obtained the impeccable score of twenty out of twenty.
Count Pillet-Will acquired the property in 1879, following its sale by Emily Macdonnel, wife of Alexandre Aguado's son. This period was marked both by the great world recession and by the major development of cryptogamic diseases such as oidium, mildew and phylloxera. The Château Margaux vineyard was replanted and part of the production from young vines was sold under the name of the estate's second wine, Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux.
The 20th century: an illustrious and forward-looking estate
The Ginestet family, at the helm of one of Bordeaux's leading wine merchants, became the owners of Château Margaux in 1950. Although major restructuring work was carried out on the vineyard under the direction of Fernand Ginestet and his son Pierre, the economic and quality crisis of the 1970s resulted in the property being put up for sale.
André Mentzelopoulos acquired the property in 1977. At the head of the Félix Potin company, this visionary man of Greek origin began major work to modernise the château, the vineyard and the production tools so that the brilliance and prestige of Château Margaux would once again be recognised among the world's greatest wines.
Following his death in 1980, his daughter Corinne, who was already part of the family group, took over the running of the estate. Continuing the work initiated by her father, Corinne Mentzelopoulos manages the family legacy and energetically instils all the passion that drives the history of the château in order to perpetuate the masterful work initiated by her father.
All there is to know about Château Margaux
Location and exposure
Château Margaux reigns over a 262-hectare terroir, of which 82 hectares are planted vineyards. While 70 hectares are dedicated to red wines, 12 are dedicated to the estate's white wine.
Geology: a rare tapestry
"From an exceptional terroir comes a great wine". This adage, dear to the successive owners of Château Margaux, is the perfect expression of the geological singularity of the estate, whose rare and unique terroir is located on a gravel outcropping.
Climate: an exceptional vineyard with a mild oceanic climate
The Margaux appellation benefits from a temperate oceanic climate, characterised by mild, wet winters and relatively cool summers.
Château Margaux is a benchmark for producing frin wines from a vineyard that is managed with the utmost rigour. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc for the red wines, and Sauvignon Blanc for the Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux.
Château Margaux and its Second Wine, Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, are fermented in oak vats and aged for 18 to 24 months in new barrels.
The white wine of the estate, Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux, is fermented in oak barrels and aged for 6 to 8 months.
The style of Château Margaux wines
Recognised since the 17th century as one of the most illustrious wines in the world, Château Margaux is the pure and authentic expression of great terroirs.
The quintessence of finesse, the Grand Vin du Château Margaux harmoniously combines elegance, complexity and aromatic intensity with exceptional freshness.
The second wine of the estate, Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux has probably been produced since the beginning of the 17th century. Initially called "Château Margaux 2nd wine", the current name was given to it in 1908. Its production was stopped between the 1930s and 1970s, but was relaunched in 1977 under the leadership of André Mentzelopoulos. Representing today 30% of the harvest, this Second Wine offers an alluring balance and a subtle alchemy between sweetness and power.
Produced since the end of the 17th century, the Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux is the fruit of the visionary spirit of the Cellar Master at the time, Berlon, who was one of the first to separate the red and white grapes during the vinification process. Called "Château Margaux vin de sauvignon" in the 19th century, it has carried its current name and the same label since 1920. Produced from one of the oldest plots on the estate and made in limited quantities, due to a rigorous selection of the highest quality grapes, this single-variety white wine is vinified with great precision and excellence in ultra-modern facilities. The wine is persistent and reveals all its finesse, aromatic richness and subtle minerality throughout the tasting.
Ageing potential of the wines
The wines of this Premier Grand Cru Classé can lay in the cellar for several decades in order to enhance their complexity along with their rare and sophisticated structure.