Very few wine estates in the world can truly claim to be iconic, though Château Margaux is surely among them. The estate sits proudly in the Margaux appellation of Bordeaux’s left bank, where it has produced outstanding wine for four centuries.
If ever you find yourself making small talk at a party, and on the receiving end of a dull lecture from a wine snob, we have the solution: simply mention Château Margaux, and they’ll surely perk up! Even better, rattle off one of these five facts and you’ll be sure to impress even the most serious and unflappable wine aficionado.
1. Château Margaux’s brand new winery was designed by superstar architect Norman Foster
British architect Norman Foster’s reputation precedes him, thus it was no surprise that he was chosen to design the first new building at the Château Margaux estate for 200 years. He designed the Nouveau Chai, a state-of-the-art winery production facility for red and white wine. From a distance, you would think the building had always been there, so seamlessly does its outer structure fit into the existing architecture. Step in under the impressive roof, however, and you will find yourself at the very cutting edge of fine winemaking technology!
2. Château Margaux shares a managing director with a top American winery
Château Margaux’s highly charismatic managing director, Paul Pontallier, sadly passed away in April 2016. Mr. Pontallier had joined the estate in 1983 and served as managing director since 1990, overseeing a period of consistently excellent quality winemaking. Following his untimely passing, the château appointed Philippe Bascaules to continue Mr. Pontallier’s work. The two had previously worked together at Margaux, before Mr. Bascaules moved to the USA to run Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook winery in St. Helena, California. When Mr. Bascaules officially begins his Margaux role in March 2017, he will be based in Bordeaux and travel frequently between the two top estates.
3. Château Margaux was voted the best wine in Bordeaux in 2015
Each year in April, the wine trade and media head to Bordeaux to taste barrel samples of the previous year’s vintage, and decide what is worth buying based on potential quality. This ritual forms part of the so-called en primeur campaign. In April 2016, the world’s foremost wine experts descended on the region and made their judgements about the 2015 vintage. Though the Bordelais may try to suggest that there is no such thing as a “bad vintage” there, 2015 was widely accepted as being rather good, and perhaps even great. The Margaux appellation generally fared very well, and unsurprisingly Château Margaux received a multitude of high or perfect scores. In the end, Château Margaux 2015 was voted overall wine of the vintage in a survey conducted by UK fine wine stock exchange Liv-ex.
4. Thomas Jefferson loved Château Margaux
Founding Father and third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson was a wine lover and collected many of the world’s great wines. His love of the fortified wines of Spain and Portugal gave way to that of the fine red wines of France, and he personally travelled the vineyards of Bordeaux and Burgundy. He famously said, “There cannot be a better bottle than a bottle of Margaux.”
5. The estate’s reputation wasn’t always stellar
Despite its First Growth status, Château Margaux has not consistently enjoyed the superb reputation we now take for granted. During the 1960s and 1970s, the estate underperformed considerably and the reputation of its wines took a serious nosedive. It wasn’t until the estate was bought by André Mentzelopoulos in 1977 that things started to take a change for the better. Mr. Mentzelopoulos invested heavily in modern and innovative winemaking techniques and enlisted the services of renowned consultant Emile Peynaud. Sadly he passed away before he could see the literal fruits of his labour, but he was succeeded by his daughter Corinne in 1980.
These five facts should help you to get through a conversation with just about any wine buff. Do you have any more interesting facts about Château Margaux that we’ve missed?