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Château Margaux, a 1er Cru Classé property, has been owned by the Mentzelopoulos family since 1978 - since then it has consistently produced the finest wines in the Médoc.
One of the grandest, most imposing buildings amongst the Médoc châteaux, Château Margaux in its current form was built in the early 19th Century, although viticulture had been practised on the estate for several centuries before. A chequered period of ownership in the 19th and early 20th Century meant that the quality of some Margaux vintages was patchy, but the change which restored the property to its rightful status came in 1977 when it was bought by André Mentzenopoulos, Greek by birth but who had lived in France since 1958 and had made a fortune through supermarket retailing. André immediately instigated much-needed investment in vineyard and cellar, but his untimely death in 1980 saw his daughter, Corinne, take up the reins. Corinne’s shrewdest move was the recruitment of young, talented winemaker, Paul Pontallier, to oversee the production.
Paul remains at the helm nearly 30 years later, and in that time Margaux has produced some legendary wines, but also displays a marvellous seam of consistency through good years and the not so good.
The estate has 82 hectares under vine, with Cabernet Sauvignon inevitably dominant (75%) with 20% Merlot making up most of the rest, along with a smattering of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Unusually in Margaux, there is a white wine made here, Pavillon Blanc, from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, while the two red wines are, of course, Ch. Margaux itself and Pavillon Rouge. Typically, about 30,000 cases of red wine are made, with the Grand Vin usually accounting for just over 40% of the total. Production of the white wine amounts to less than 3,000 cases.
Fermentation takes place in oak vats, and ageing for Château Margaux in 100% new barrels for 22 months. It is Paul Pontallier’s firmly-held belief that it is the Cabernet Sauvignon grape which is responsible for most of the sheer class which characterises the wines of Château Margaux and we are seeing, in consequence, an ever-greater percentage of this varietal in the blend of the Grand Vin.
Margaux wines are renowned for its perfumed elegance, but this should not be construed as meaning that these are light-bodied. Far from it, as the best have an enviable structure, layers of complexity, and formidable length.
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A vast area of south-west France spanning a quarter of the country's windswept Atlantic coastline and a great expanse of fine sandy beaches. The region stretches from the marshes of the Marais Poitevin to the great pine forests of the Landes. At its centre lies the celebrated wine region of Bordeaux and its world renowned châteaux. With its elegant 18th Century architecture and vibrant cultural life, Bordeaux is well worth a visit.
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