The iconic Château Margaux estate is nicknamed the “Versailles of the Médoc.” From its stunning neo-Palladian architecture to its rows of carefully-planted vines, it’s a picturesque estate that’s fit for royalty. The wines themselves are equally alluring. President Thomas Jefferson famously adored these wines, saying, “There couldn’t be a better Bordeaux bottle.” The moody dark berry flavors and heady violet aroma generally present in the grand vin have earned this estate a reputation as one of the world’s greatest wine producers.
Since these wines are consistently very high in quality, ranking the best vintages of Château Margaux is no easy task. To help you find an exceptional vintage to add to your Bordeaux collection, we’ve created a list of the vintages that received the highest scores from critics over the years and that will continue to impress collectors many decades from now.
Château Margaux: A Noble Bordeaux Estate
Château Margaux has a long, storied history. The first vines were planted on the estate in the 16th century and from the very beginning it was the wine of choice among French royalty. Château Margaux’s earliest owners were noblemen and noblewomen. Today, Château Margaux is still considered a noble wine. Located in the Margaux commune of Bordeaux’s left bank, Margaux is one of the most renowned producers in the entire Médoc region. During the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, it was one of only four producers to earn premier cru (first growth) status.
Château Margaux’s success is a direct result of the estate’s spectacular terroir and its lead winemakers’ dedication to producing wines of outstanding quality. In the early 18th century, Margaux was one of the first Bordeaux wineries to separate its red and white grapes based on terroir and climate. Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in a 25-hectare parcel located at the very top of the estate’s plateau, where the gravel soils are deep and the vines are exposed to plenty of sunlight. Sauvignon Blanc grapes were planted on the western side of the estate in the shallower, limestone-rich soils. This area is exposed to more cooling winds, which is favorable for white grapes. As a result of this thoughtful viniculture, Château Margaux’s red and white wines were much deeper in color, more structured, and far more complex than other wines made in Bordeaux at the time.
Every Margaux release is a unique expression of place and time.
Recent changes at the estate over the past century have increased the quality of these wines to an even greater extent. For example, in 1965, lead winemaker Pierre Ginestet decided that Margaux’s flagship grand vin should be bottled only in years when quality was particularly high, similar to the way most Champagne houses release their vintages. All other Margaux wine would be bottled as non-vintage or sold to négociants. In 1983, lead winemaker Paul Pontallier made even more changes, including:
- New vats
- A gravity-fed reception area
- A second round of hand-sorting to select only the best grapes
- Plot-by-plot vinification to more precisely blend the final grand vin
- New state-of-the-art cellars
- Additional red wine labels (including a second and third wine)
Due to Pontallier’s efforts, the best recent vintages of Château Margaux have become even more precise, complex, and intense in flavor. Every Margaux release is a unique expression of place and time—while the wines are consistently high in quality from year to year, no two vintages taste exactly alike.
The Château Margaux Grand Vin Is Becoming Rarer
Château Margaux has expanded its offerings in recent years. In the past, the grand vin and Pavillon Blanc were the only two labels. Today, the estate makes four different wines:
- Château Margaux (grand vin) (12,000 cases per year): A flagship wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon (usually 85 percent or more), Merlot (around 20 percent), Petit Verdot (three percent), and Cabernet Franc (two percent). It’s a rich wine full of complex flavors and aromas, like truffle and violet.
- Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux (16,000 cases per year): A second red wine made from a similar blend of grapes. It’s not as complex or age-worthy as the grand vin, but it is still a powerful wine that many Bordeaux enthusiasts enjoy.
- Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux (1,600 cases per year): A white Bordeaux made from 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Although high in quality, it isn’t officially classified under the Margaux appellation because Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t fall under AOC regulations.
- Margaux du Château Margaux (varies from year to year): A third red wine blend that is less complex than the grand vin and Pavillon Rouge. It’s the newest addition to the Margaux roster.
As Château Margaux crafts more Margaux du Château Margaux and Pavillon Rouge bottles, the quality of the grand vin will increase. This is because only the finest grapes will go into the grand vin release and the rest will be used in other labels. However, this also means that the Château Margaux grand vin will become even rarer and more difficult to find in the future. Fewer cases are being produced and this is increasing the value of these wines on the secondary market. If you want to invest in Margaux’s highest-quality label, you should consider buying grand vin vintages now, before the price balloons.
The Best Vintages of Château Margaux
The grand vin label is the most age-worthy and powerful wine Château Margaux produces, and this also makes it the most collectible and valuable. To invest in this iconic, sophisticated wine, consider some of the best vintages of Château Margaux in history.
The most legendary vintages (receiving average scores of 96+ points on wine-searcher) are:
The 2018 vintage has also been rated highly by professional critics who have had the opportunity to barrel taste these wines. For example, Wine Advocate scores this vintage between 97 and 100 points; in Vinous, 2018 Château Margaux was given a score of 95 to 98 points; and critic Jeb Dunnuck gave the vintage a high score between 98 and 100 points. So, while it’s still too early to say precisely how high in quality this vintage is, these early scores indicate that it will likely be among the estate’s best.
Of the best vintages of Château Margaux, 2015 is a standout.
However, because these wines are so high in quality, demand for them is quite high. They may be difficult to find on the secondary market. The vintages below also received high scores (90+ points) but may be easier to locate because they are rated slightly lower than the very best vintages of Château Margaux:
Of the best vintages of Château Margaux, 2015 is a standout, and arguably the highest in quality. Many professional critics gave this vintage a perfect score and claimed it is the greatest wine the estate has ever made. Ideal weather conditions in 2015 produced a wine with incredible finesse and structure. It’s expected to age for more than 50 years and is also a historic vintage, as it was the last wine Paul Pontallier made. The bottle pays homage to his legacy, featuring a black label etched with Pontallier’s name. The 2015 will certainly become a collector’s item, so if you find this vintage on the secondary market, you should strongly consider investing.
How to Invest in Château Margaux
Whether you buy the historic 2015 vintage or another top-quality grand vin release, you should first verify that the wine you’re buying is authentic. Unfortunately, the best vintages of Château Margaux are frequently faked because fraudulent sellers know that the wines are among the most valuable in the world. The estate has already taken some steps to prevent fraud. All bottles made after 1989 are laser-etched to verify authenticity. Additionally, the estate introduced a prooftag system in 2011 that attaches an electronic signature to every bottle. However, despite these efforts, some counterfeit bottles still slip through the cracks. Older vintages are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting because they are very rare and have no safeguards in place to protect authenticity. This is why it’s important to buy wine from vendors that inspect bottles for authenticity. You can also hire a third-party authenticator to assess the bottle before you buy it.
To protect your finest bottles over their long lifespan, use professional storage.
Storage is equally important when you invest in Château Margaux. These wines are very tannic and intense in their youth, so drinking them too early is ill-advised. They need at least 15 years of age before they’re ready to drink, and the best vintages don’t reach peak maturity until they are at least 50 years old. To protect your finest bottles over their long lifespan, use professional storage. A managed storage warehouse will keep your bottles under ideal temperatures and humidity levels, allowing them to age peacefully. Full-service storage providers also include insurance and damage protection, ensuring you don’t lose your entire investment if any of your bottles break, are stolen, or are damaged by natural disasters. These services make it easy to take proper care of the best vintages of Château Margaux so that you can enjoy these seductive, elegant wines at their very best.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.