Welcome to our First Growth Collectors series as we explore some of the most sought after wines.
This week my focus is the most beautiful Château in the Bordeaux region, Château Margaux.
As I travelled down the long drive up to this exquisite architecture, I was filled with excitement to see what’s beyond the gates of one of the most prestigious chateaux in France which goes as far back as to the 1500s with vines planted over 87-hectares.
The estate sits on what was known as ‘La Mothe de Margaux’ in the 12th Century. The reason for the name was the high elevation of the vineyard compared to the rest of the Medoc which is essentially a level playing field, flat and filled with dry coarse layer of clay-limestone and gravel.
Château Margaux is one of the founding First Growths Wines, Premiuer Grand Cru Classe of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux. The flavours of violets, dried rose petals, beautiful sweet spices and dried red-current complimented by its silky tannins which gives their wine the ability to be served with any dish of lamb, game, beef or poultry, or simply to be enjoy on its’ own.
This Château stands tall as one of France’s most prestigious wines known worldwide. It has fame due to its’ subtle perfume wines made predominately from Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), the backbone grape variety in this region. This estate only produces 150,000 bottles per year which arguably influences the market.
Whether the wine is popular or not, the wine is ultimately produced to be consumed, therefore increasing its’ rarity or brought for capital appreciation if chosen as a wine investment.
What made this wine so desirable and how does it maintain is desirability?
First, its location. The region of Margaux stands out as the most important appellation in the Haut Medoc district of Bordeaux, South Western France. Situated 25 Kilometres north of Bordeaux. One of the world most lucrative regions for wine making, producing some of the world’s most sought after products, shaping itself into a wine that gets more expensive with age as it increases in value due to the rarity.
Whether you are a wine connoisseur or collector, you may already know that wines included in the 1885 Classification of Bordeaux are at the heart of a successful wine portfolio, for drinking, or for fine-wine investing.
Some of the best vintages are 2015, 2010, 2009, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1996, 1990, 1982 etc. As this clearly indicates, the consistency of this estate is truly remarkable.
As you can see Château Margaux has remained relatively unchanged throughout the years.
My very first experience was the tasting of Château Margaux 1982. What an experience for a young man!
Spotting a lucrative market, the competition expanded dramatically trying to meet the ever-increasing demand for Bordeaux wines. This started in Europe and spread into South America and North America as winemakers make their journey over the Atlantic. Asia now more predominant than others.
The grapes are handpicked by vineyard staff who work tirelessly during picking season to ensure berries (grapes) are transported from the vineyard to the winery at the right time. This is not an easy process as there are many factors that affect the end result of a wine. To achieve the rating it has achieved over the years, each and every variable in the process – from picking to bottling has to be perfect. This process has to be repeated consistently to achieve the standard they so rightly deserve, year on year.
Their processes are nothing short of a remarkable work of art. The wine then stays in their cellars – aging in oak barrels for 24 months.
The wines produced by Château Margaux, all offer different characteristics and fall into different categories. For instances, the Pavillion Rouge de Chateau Margaux is a deep garnet red, on the nose it offers red fruits with ripe raspberry, infused oak and a hint of graphite. On the palate it produces a tightly-wound tannic framework complimented by a velvety over coat. The finish is a long firm oak leanness. This obviously will be vintage dependant, but they aim to keep a consistency in their wines to retain their satisfied customers. The tannins are firm but forgiving, delivering a long length finish.
While, there is their third wine, Margaux de Château Margaux. This is normally one of the estates most popular wines for consumption. Just on the line of being affordable yet allusive.
Unknown by many, this estate has a blockbuster story of how the Ginestet family influenced Château Margaux. The family took over the estate in 1949 and in 1973, seemingly overnight during the Bordeaux economic crisis, the Ginestets’ world fell apart. With three unsold vintages in their cellars, they were forced to sell not just their business but the great symbol of their prestige, perhaps the most beautiful of all the Bordeaux wine properties.
The Estate was on the market for 2 years until a man called Andre Mentzelopoulos bought Château Margaux in 1977 for $16 million. He started changing and improving every aspect of the production line and good results soon became evident. He invested heavily in modern and innovative equipment and employed staff with market know-how to resurrect its damaged reputation. This included a man, a renowned consultant, called Emile Peyaud. These two men saved the Estates future and created solutions for every problem – they were truly pioneers of the wine world.
The wines reputation made such a comeback it became Thomas Jefferson’s favourite tipple of choice. He was the Minister to France when he decided to curate his own hierarchy of wines. On his list, Château Margaux was at the very top. He was even known to quote “There couldn’t be a better Bordeaux bottle”
However, it has been said that a certain wine merchant who went by the name of William Sokolin was on a visit to New York in 1969. With him was a rare 1787 bottle of Margaux, from the collection of the one and only, Thomas Jefferson. A vintage written in history and classed as one of the best vintages dating back in history. The bottle was one of the most expensive bottles of wine in the world at that time, however, a waiter walked past the table, knocking it onto the floor……smashing the contents. The most expensive bottle of wine in the world …. never drunk or sold.
Like any successful business, Château Margaux has battled its hardships with market fluctuations and change in consumer tastes and preference. However, it still remains as one of the most desirable products money can buy.
Château Margaux has played a huge part in pioneering anti-counterfeiting measures to ensure the consumers, and investors experience the pleasure of their genuinity and risk of fraud. The estate was the first to start laser etching their bottles in 1989, and in 2011 adopted the proof tag system. The proof tag system authenticates each bottle through a system of lights, algorithms and electronic signatures ensuring the origin, contents and journey of the wine are all accounted for. The best part of this is that you, the customer, can check the provenance yourself.
This wine illustrates its’ diversity and complexity it has to offer. It’s flexibility to adapt has impressed the market for so many years that there is no doubt, Château Margaux deserves its place as one of the all-time great estates in the world.
More about Our Sommelier Ltd
Thank you for reading our first article on our First Growth Collectors Series. We hope you enjoyed our insight into one of the most wonderful French Bordeaux Wine Estates, Château Margaux. Stay tuned for the next release on https://oursommelier.com/blog/
Our Sommelier Ltd was incorporated in 2013 and is owned and managed by Arlene King from her London, Mayfair address. The concept behind Our Sommelier is to offer a personalised Sommelier service to private and corporate clients who have an interest in Fine Wine and Spirits, bespoke gifts, seeking procurement of rare and fine wine and spirits for their private cellars, in-house tasting events, and to tour vineyards.