“This estate has produced only exceptional wines over the last three decades.” -Robert Parker
Château Margaux is one of Bordeaux’s most historic and famous estates. The only classified First Growth in Margaux, it epitomizes the appellation’s elegance, while producing wines with fantastic aging potential.
Margaux’s roots date back eight centuries. The Margaux site was originally used as a fortress, constructed close to the Gironde River to protect against invasion. With a wealth of soldiers to feed, they were encouraged to plant grains in the surrounding fields, but they soon found that due to the particular gravel soils, large parts of the land were not feasible for grain production and so instead opted to plant vineyards. This decision to abandon growing cereal in favor of grapes in 1572 played the decisive role in the complete restructuring of the Médoc.
As the first grape growers in the southern Médoc, it wasn’t long before they recognized that particular plots were producing better quality grapes than others. Even at this very early stage, terroir definition was already playing its part in where the Margaux producers would grow their grapes. As the fortress’s population increased, a neighboring village developed in order to provide necessary goods and services, and the village of Margaux was born. The fact that the property predated the village and appellation is important, since today it is illegal to name an appellation in France after a producer (or vice versa) – Margaux remains the only one.
Classified as a First Growth in 1855, it was the only château to receive 20 out of a possible 20 points during the classification process – cementing its iconic status.
Like much of Europe, with the development of the vine diseases of mildew, oidium and phylloxera that swept through Bordeaux in the late 1800s, followed by the Great Depression and World Wars, the property went through a difficult period throughout the 19th and 20th centuries before being bought by André Mentzelopoulos, a Greek entrepreneur, in 1977.
At a time when Bordeaux was emerging from a serious economic and qualitative crisis, André was proactive in the region, investing heavily in the vineyards (implementing drainage systems and replanting programs), as well as employing renowned oenologist Émile Peynaud who introduced new oak barrels for élevage . Sadly, André Mentzelopoulos died just three years after taking over the estate, but his legacy lives on under the current owner, his daughter Corinne Mentzelopoulos, who took over at just 27 years old.
Under her management Margaux has enjoyed fantastic success with her right hand man and winemaker, the late Paul Pontallier a key player in the estate’s rise. Pontallier is recognized as a true legend of modern Bordeaux and was behind some of the greatest wines ever made at the property. He died in 2015, but Philippe Bascaules has taken over, continuing the estate’s commitment to excellence.