AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 22
Name of wine estate: Château Margaux
Wine region: Bordeaux
Standout points: Famed Médoc First Growth, the iconic neo-Palladian château
Winemaker: Sebastian Vergner
Wine style: Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends
A Médoc icon
Probably the most iconic of all the Médoc châteaux, Châteaux Margaux was built, in its current form, by architect Louis Combes in the early 19thcentury. As well as being iconic, Margaux is also one of the oldest chateaux in the Médoc – it traces its roots back to the 16th century, although viticulture of some sort has been practised on the estate since the 9th century. This venerated First Growth is now run by Corinne Mentzenopoulos, a shrewd businesswoman who, since taking over after the death of her father, André, in 1980 has managed to turn Margaux into a billion-dollar business.
What’s so great about Margaux?
Château Margaux has always been held in very high regard. Wine-loving US President Thomas Jefferson regarded it as the best claret in the world. Indeed a bottle from Jefferson’s private cellar, a 1787 vintage, valued at $500,000, was for a time the most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold. Château Margaux’s recent reputation for producing truly great wines owes a lot to the late cellarmaster Paul Pontallier. Throughout his time working for the estate, Pontallier grew ever more convinced that Cabernet was the secret of the wine’s greatness. Thus he gradually reduced the proportion of Merlot in the blend.
As you would expect, a lot of wine enthusiasts would like to go behind the scenes at Margaux. When the chateau is open for business (it is closed on weekends, for the month of August and during harvest), anyone is welcome to stroll around the grounds, however tours of the magnificent renovated red wine cellar, modern white wine cellar, Margaux’s very own cooperage and tasting Pavilion are by appointment only. You should contact them well in advance of your trip too. Bon chance!