Château Margaux was one of the first four estates to be named a First Growth (Premier or 1er Cru Classé) in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, and continues to be one of the most prestigious wines in all of France. The estate, then known as “La Mothe de Margaux,” was founded in the early 12th century on the left bank of the Garonne estuary in the Médoc. In 11... Read more
Château Margaux was one of the first four estates to be named a First Growth (Premier or 1er Cru Classé) in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, and continues to be one of the most prestigious wines in all of France. The estate, then known as “La Mothe de Margaux,” was founded in the early 12th century on the left bank of the Garonne estuary in the Médoc. In 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet, the future Henry II of England, which made Aquitaine (Bordeaux and environs) English property until the end of the 100 Years War in 1453. For over a couple of centuries, this ensured the sale and trade of Bordeaux wines, Margaux included, to the English market. The royal family and assorted English nobility became huge fans as a result. In the 1570s, Pierre de Lestonnac overhauled the estate and vineyards, clearing grain in favor of grapevines, and propelled the future success of the wines. By the beginning of the 18th century, there were some 265 hectares under vine, which is roughly what it still is today. This was also when the estate manager, only known as “Berlon,” established the practice of vinifying red and white grapes separately, as well as waiting till later in the day to pick grapes so they wouldn’t be covered in dew and rot as easily as they waited for production. The last part of the 18th century was a boom for Margaux. The 1771 vintage was the first Bordeaux to be sold at Christie’s. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson counted it among vineyards of the “first quality.” But not unlike other properties in this part of France, and despite its classification in 1855, Margaux suffered during the years of the Revolution, downy mildew and phylloxera. By 1893, it had regained its former glory with one of the most successful vintages of the 19th century. The estate went through a cycle of many owners over the next century. The 1970s were a particularly bad time under the Ginestets as much of the world was in a recession and three successive vintages - 1972, 1973 and 1974 - were deemed unsaleable (it was, incidentally, the Ginestets who had the bright idea to declare vintages only in “good” harvest years in the first place). Ownership was finally overturned to André Mentzelopoulos in 1977, who invested in the vineyards, reinstated the second wines of Pavillon Rouge and Pavillon Blanc, and renovated the estate. Even though he was only in control for a couple of years until his death in 1980, his tireless efforts paved the way for the great successes of the subsequent decades, starting in the early 1980s. 1982 in particular was the vintage when international investors really took note of both the Château Margaux and Pavillons, and when critics such as Robert Parker began promoting the “Bordeaux Futures” frenzy with Margaux as one of the top estates. This new tradition has persevered into present day as these wines continue to please palates, command huge auction returns and take coveted positions in cellars throughout the world. Read less
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