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External Reviews for Web Exclusive Chateau Margaux Premiere Grand Cru Classe Margaux
Another celestial effort from Paul Pontallier and Corinne Mentzelopoulus, the 2005 Margaux, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, boasts a dense opaque blue/purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, creme de cassis, licorice, and, despite its having spent two years in 100% new wood, only a subtle touch of toasty oak. Although full-bodied, the wine seems light on its feet because of the silky tannins as well as the great gravel terroir from which it comes. Beautiful purity, length, and nobility define this modern day classic. Is it better than the 2000, 1996, 1990, or some of the vintages from the decade of the eighties? Who knows, but it is unquestionably one of the all-time great wines made at Chateau Margaux. This estate has produced only exceptional wines over the last three decades. The seamlessness of the 2005 suggests it will perform well early, but it should last for a half century or more. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2050+.
Full, saturated red-ruby. Knockout nose combines redcurrant, tropical chocolate, leather, woodsmoke and nutty oak with exotic chocolate mint and coffee liqueur; still manages to retain floral lift even in this beastly vintage. Then wonderfully fat, sweet and full, even if it comes across as almost heavy following the ineffable 2005 and 2004 examples. But "relatively inelegant" for Margaux still suggests a degree of refinement that few chateaux can match in the greatest vintages. A hugely rich and dense wine that finishes with elevated but ripe tannins and great length, with a subtle suggestion of dry spices. Pontallier says the terroir will take over in 20 years, "like with the '82." Splendid.
The 1995 has fleshed out, developed more intensity, in addition to some stunning aromatics since I tasted it last spring. It appears to be a sensational Chateau Margaux that should take its place alongside some of the great wines produced at this estate under the Mentzelopoulos regime. Will this vintage ultimately rival the 1990, 1986, 1983, or 1982? I doubt it, but this majestic wine is not far off the mark of those classics. The wine's opaque purple color is followed by a fabulously sweet nose of black fruits, licorice, smoke, and the alluring floral scents that are so typical of Chateau Margaux. There is admirable flavor intensity and presence on the palate, as well as layers of black fruits, full body, and well-integrated toasty oak, acidity, and tannin. In comparison with other great vintages, it is not as creamy-textured and flattering as the 1990, but neither is it as backward and tannic as the 1986. Given the fact that it has developed so spectacularly in cask, this should be a Chateau Margaux to drink between 2005-2025.
Fiona Morrison once described Margaux to me as a drag queen, all feminine make up on the surface, all masculine muscle underneath. She may well have been describing this '98, given its violets and spice, its knee-melting new oak scent, its mint and cardamom and fine cigar tobacco aromas. It smells and feels like a grand cru, but it gives nothing of itself for several days. Then, when several of the other top Margaux wines from the vintage were heading south, this was just beginning to show all its layered ganduer. Even then, the lovely dark berry density at the center was still sealed off under all the strapping complexity. It's a finely build aristocrat (of indeterminate sex).
Paul Pontallier happened upon the 2000 vintage at Margaux, having prepared the vines since 1983, and having gained a certain level of intimacy with their produce over the years. He doesn't take credit for the particular balance of water retention in the soils at Margaux, for the light rains that refreshed the vines in August, though he can take some credit for knowing how to manage those vines and when to pick them. For without his history at the château, the 2000 vintage might have been merely great. But there's something of his spirits in this wine, along with the essence of the Margaux vineyard, the glint of the soil and the grandeur of the building, which taken together will stop you in your tracks.
This may be from the exceptional vintage of 2003, but Château Margaux remains true to form. First and foremost, it is a refined, elegant wine, with complex layers of flavors. But, yes, the hot summer is there the dense, dry tannins, but somehow they seem to float through the wine rather than sitting heavily in the middle. Acidity and freshness come to finish, giving the wine a delicious lift.
One of the cleanest and freshest wines of the vintage, Margaux is immediately vinous, its plump fruit in harmony with the influence of oak. The combination of superripe fruit and new French oak makes it seem like a rich Napa Valley cabernet at first; as it develops over the course of several days, it continues to grow more profound and sophisticated. Massive in size, the fragrant, luscious fruit retains freshness with air; it has so much puppy fat that it is impossible to perceive the details of its structure. It is, however, resistant to oxygen and impressively long, two factors that imply a long life ahead. A delicious vintage of Margaux.
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Dietary Information: Kosher, Organic
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