Visits to this grand Chateau are difficult to make. Are you a customer of a fine wine shop in your area that sells Chateau Margaux? It is possible that the proprietor may be able to make a request on your behalf to arrange a visit for you. This is how we managed a visit to Margaux. Our seasoned tour driver admitted that this was the first time he had taken a client to Chateau Margaux. As we arrive the harvest activity at Margaux is beginning with the picking of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Although Chateau Margaux is famous for its magnificent red, they make a small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc, and it has the label Pavillon Blanc du Margaux. Cabernet Sauvignon and the other Bordeaux grapes will be ready for harvest in one week.
Chateau Margaux is in the northern area of Bordeaux in the Medoc and the wine appellation of Margaux. Chateau Margaux dates back to the 12 century. Chateau Margaux is one of one of the five designated Premier Cru or First Growth wineries in Bordeaux. Its wines are highly acclaimed and sought after and as you can imagine very expensive. We felt fortunate to be able to taste the 2004 vintage and the 2009 vintage of their second label Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux.
We walked through the cellar to view the wooden fermentation tanks and two beautiful barrel rooms. When the grapes are harvested each vineyard plot is kept separately in the large fermenting tanks. Once fermentation is complete the wine is transferred to barrels. It is not for several months that the winemaker and his assistant taste and evaluate the wine from each vineyard plot. It is only then that the wines are blended for the next vintage. The wine is blended in large tanks and then returned to the barrels pictured in the photo.
Chateau Margaux is only one of four Chateaus that makes their own oak barrels. In their cooperage center, they make barrels that provide 20% of the barrels needed for a normal vintage. The cooper can make one barrel in 4 hours. The cooper also fixes barrels that are leaking. The barrels at Chateau Margaux are used for two years only. It has been a tradition to make their own barrels and has been doing this for the last two centuries.
The Chateau itself as can be seen in the photo above is a magnificent structure built 200 years ago. The current owner of Margaux, Corinne Mentzelopoulos, lives in the Chateau. As we walk around the estate my footsteps can almost feel each generation of families and winemakers who have lived and worked at Margaux. What a fantastic visit, one that will live in my memory bank very long.