"This was the finest performance by this wine that I have seen since it was released. I did not expect the 2003 Chateau Margaux to show this well in a vintage where the southern part of the Medoc was clearly less impressive than the north. However, it is a beautiful, dark plum/purple-tinged effort with sensational aromatics, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and a youthfulness, precision and freshness that belie what one generally associates with this vintage. It can be drunk now and over the next 15-20 years. Kudos to Chateau Margaux." -RP 98
Chateau Margaux is one of Bordeaux's most famous wine estates, located just east of Margaux itself in the Medoc. Along with Lafite, Latour and Haut-Brion, it was rated as a first growth in the original 1855 Bordeaux Classification of the Medoc. Generally, Margaux is considered as the most elegant of the first growths, and is consistently one of the most expensive wines in the world.
La Mothe de Margaux existed as a distinct property in the 12th Century, and was set up as a wine estate in the 1570s, as farmers in the Medoc began to abandon cereal crops in favor of vines. In 1705, the London Gazette advertised the first auction of 230 barrels of "Margose", and, in 1787, Thomas Jefferson made his famous visit to Bordeaux and identified Margaux as one of the "four vineyards of first quality". By 1800, the estate occupied 265 hectares (655 acres) with a third planted to vines, which remains the situation today. The iconic neo-palladian chateau, nicknamed "The Versailles of the Medoc", was built in the early 1800s to match the reputation of the vineyard.
Chateau Margaux's vineyards have a complex combination of soils that are unique to the area. These consist of chalky clay under a top layer of coarse and fine gravels, which is well-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for around 75 percent of plantings. Merlot makes up a further 20 percent, with the rest planted to Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. As is typical for top Bordeaux estates, the vineyard is densely planted at 10,000 vines per hectare. There are also 12 hectares (30 acres) of Sauvignon Blanc to make Margaux's white offering, Pavillon Blanc, which must be sold as Bordeaux AOP, not Margaux. The red wines are fermented in a mix of traditional wooden and stainless steel vats; the grand vin sees between 18 and 26 months aging in new oak barrels.
In 1977, Chateau Margaux was bought by the Greek-born cereals trader and grocery chain owner Andre Mentzepoulos. In a time of economic crisis he began a major program of investment, which was continued upon his death in 1980 by his daughter Corinne and winemaker Paul Pontallier (who joined in 1983). This overhaul allowed Margaux to fully benefit from global economic upturns and the excellent 1982 vintage. More recent developments include the 2009 introduction of a third wine, Margaux du Chateau Margaux, to complement the grand vin and the second wine, Pavillon Rouge.