Stepping into Chateau Margaux was another amazing experience. Besides their fab wine, I always enjoy their enormous classy Chateau. It was considered by many to be the most beautiful of all in Bordeaux.
This Chateau is one of the very few that imposes the ultimate symbol of integrity in fine wine making and the constant pursuit of perfection in a glass. A great wine making estate with a long history, of which the last thirty years, some might argue, have been its most illustrious.
Under the ownership of Andre (Corinne’s father) and Corinne Mentzelopoulos since 1977 and Corinne’s smartest move on the recruitment of young, talented winemaker Paul Pontallier who remains at the helm nearly 30 years until now. Chateau Margaux has plotted a steady course across two decades, with a seemingly endless stream of fabulously consistent wine through good years and the not so good ones. The combination of solid wine making skills, thoughtful conservatism, yet forward thinking and careful use of modern advances (while decidedly not to apply optical sorting but to believe in human judgement based on experience) takes this majestic First Growth from strength to strength.
The estate has 82 hectares under vine, with Cabernet Sauvignon (75%) and Merlot (20%) 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, Chateau Margaux and Pavillon Rouge.
Besides tasted and actually back spitted their 2005 and 2007 wine again and again in the Chateau during my visit this time (again fabulous), it was a rare chance to see Chateau Margaux’s barrel maker tightening up the barrels. At Margaux, they make some of their own barrels, more out of traditions than anything else. Check it out here see their final steps in completing the making:
You may be able to tell how manual and time consuming to create one barrel here. The traditional method of European coopers have been to hand-split the oak into staves (or strips) along the grain. After the oak is split, it is allowed to “season” or dry outdoors. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 36 months washing out the harshest tannins from the wood. The staves are then heated, traditionally over an open fire, then the pliable are bent into the shape of the desired barrel and held together with iron rings.
Their coopers can make 3 barrels per day. (which is certainly not enough for their production of around 30,000 cases annually.) A french new oak barrels cost around 800 euro or above. Chateau Margaux also use barrels by Seguin Moreau, Demptos, Boutes and Taransaud.
Besides great terrior, one may need obsessions in perfections to create the most beautiful. Chateau Marguax is revamping and restoring by Norman Foster this year by the way and I couldn’t wait to revisit and taste their wine soon.
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