The premier cru property known today as Chateau Margaux had moved from grain to grapes by 1582 and by 1680 vineyards made up about 80 hectares of a much larger (262ha) property, the same as today. The exceptional quality of the wine was soon recognised and, uniquely, the property took the name of the appellation. The spectacular chateau dates back to the early 1800s. Margaux was purchased in 1977 by the Mentzelopoulos family. Massive renovations were completed in 2015 and the modern estate also employs organic viticulture.
Château Margaux consistently makes one of the greatest Bordeaux wines, largely because of a grape selection regime that has seen production of the grand vin fall from 20,000 dozen in the 1980s to around 12,000 dozen today. The Margaux red grape vineyards total a little less than 70ha -- 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. They are mostly on sandy-stone topsoil over gravel with a clay base. There is also 11ha of Sauvignon Blanc. The grand vin is made in a combination of both wood and stainless steel vats and matures in new oak for 18-24 months. Margaux is one of few Bordeaux estates with its own cooperage. Margaux also produces a second wine, Pavillon Rouge (since 1906), a third wine, Margaux de Margaux (since 2009), and Pavillon Blanc, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grand vin is among the world’s most sought-after wines. It is known for elegance, purity of fruit, harmony and finesse yet is also rich and full bodied, offering cassis, truffle and, distinctively, the scent of violets.
The 1996 Chateau Margaux, which was bottled in September, 1998, is undoubtedly one of the great classics produced under the Mentzelopoulos regime. In many respects, it is the quintessential Chateau Margaux, as well as the paradigm for this estate, combining measured power, extraordinary elegance, and admirable complexity. I tasted the wine on three separate occasions in January, and in short, it's a beauty! The color is opaque purple. The wine offers extraordinarily pure notes of blackberries, cassis, pain grille, and flowers, gorgeous sweetness, a seamless personality, and full body, with nothing out of place. The final blend (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) contains a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. It tastes complete and long, although backward. My instincts suggest this wine will shut down, but at present it is open-knit, tasting like a recently bottled wine. The fruit is exceptionally sweet and pure, and there are layers of flavor in the mouth. I do believe this wine will develop an extraordinary perfume, and possess a high level of richness.
99 points, Robert Parker (April 1999)
The 1996 Chateau Margaux, a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, must be a strong contender for wine of the vintage. It offers everything you desire from this First Growth. It is blessed with breathtaking delineation and freshness on the nose, understated at first and then blossoming with mineral-infused black fruit, hints of blueberry, crushed stone and violet. The palate is perfectly balanced with filigree tannin, perfect acidity, a wine where everything seems to be in its right place. Blackberry, crushed stone at the front of the mouth, just a touch of spice towards the finish that shows supreme control. This is a Margaux that seems to light up the senses. It was outstanding in its youth...something that has not changed one bit over the intervening two decades. This may well turn out to be the Left Bank pinnacle of the 1990s.
100 points, Neal Martin (July 2016)
A superb vintage for Chateau Margaux and this bottle from its own cellar is sublime. Seamlessly woven flavors of violets, jasmine flowers and sweet cassis intertwine with silky tannins and a fine line of acidity running through it. A stunning, breathtaking wine.
100 points, Jeannie Cho Lee (June 2015)
Dark crimson. Very fine, together and fragrant. Sweet and very Margaux ? super charming. Already quite evolved for a first growth! Lovely polish. Though you would need to distract from the fine tannins there in abundance on the finish. Very fresh. No shortage of acidity. A little fragile and spiky.
18 points, Jancis Robinson (February 2011)
On Bordeaux’s Left Bank, near the southern end of the Haut-Médoc, lies Margaux, one of the most celebrated villages in the world of wine. Margaux is home to Château Margaux, the revered first-growth property, as well as 20 more Grand Cru Classé estates ranked in the 1855 classification of Bordeaux. The acclaimed wine of Margaux benefits from the diverse soil types in the appellation.
In general, Margaux has a very thin layer of topsoil, and the very best vineyards, above the Gironde River, have gravelly soils that encourage deep root growth and allow for good drainage. Because of the variations in soil, Margaux wines can range from delicately flavoured to highly concentrated, from medium- to full-bodied. Yet all Margaux wines share a fragrant bouquet, silky texture and remarkable balance. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in the wines of Margaux, as it does throughout the Left Bank, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc used in small percentages for blending. Because of their excellent aging potential, the best Margaux wines are prized by collectors.