2009 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, Margaux, Bordeaux
Lisa Perrotti-Brown - 14/03/2019
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com - Apr 2010
James Suckling - Wine Spectator - Apr 2010
Paul Pontallier told me they had never had such levels of concentration and tannin as they did in 2009, exceeding anything they ever produced since the Mentzelopoulos family purchased this property in 1978. Pontallier believes 1996 is the closest stylistically, but 2009 is significantly more concentrated than that vintage. I do not disagree because tasting the second wine, Pavilion Rouge du Chateau Margaux, demonstrates that the 2009 is far superior to almost every Chateau Margaux made in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, except for the 1961 and 1953.
Thirty-five percent of the crop went into the 2009 Chateau Margaux, composed of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabemet Franc. The alcohol level of 13.3% is high, but not excessively so. A wine such as this is like the quintessence of terroir. A super, Ober-concentrated perfume of creme de cassis and flowers cascades across the palate with a iightness of being despite massive concentration, a sumptuous personality, and an unctuous texture. I have never tasted a Chateau Margaux quite like this. It should be relatively drinkable at an early age, yet will last for 50-100 years. Oh my!
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate - Feb 2012
About this WINE
Château Margaux, a First Growth property, has been owned by the Mentzelopoulos family since 1978. It has since consistently produced some of the finest wines in the Médoc.
One of the grandest, most imposing buildings amongst the Médoc châteaux, Ch. Margaux in its current form was built in the early 19th century, although viticulture had been practised on the estate for several centuries before. A chequered period of ownership in the 19th and early 20th century meant that the quality of some vintages was patchy. But the change which restored the property to its rightful status came in 1977 when it was bought by André Mentzenopoulos, Greek by birth but who had lived in France since 1958 and had made a fortune through supermarket retailing. André immediately instigated much-needed investment in vineyard and cellar. His untimely death in 1980 saw his daughter, Corinne, take up the reins. Corinne’s shrewdest move was the recruitment of talented young winemaker Paul Pontallier to oversee the production.
Paul would lead the estate for 33 vintages. He sadly passed away in 2016. Today, the estate is overseen by director Philippe Bascaules and technical director Sebastien Vergne, working with consultant Eric Boissenot.
The estate has 82 hectares under vine, with Cabernet Sauvignon inevitably dominant (75%) with 20% Merlot making up most of the rest, along with a smattering of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Unusually in Margaux, there is a white wine made here, Pavillon Blanc, from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, while the two red wines are, of course, Ch. Margaux itself and Pavillon Rouge. Typically, about 30,000 cases of red wine are made, with the Grand Vin usually accounting for just over 40% of the total. Production of the white wine amounts to less than 3,000 cases.
Margaux wines are renowned for their perfumed elegance, but this should not be construed as meaning that these are light-bodied. Far from it, as the best have an enviable structure, layers of complexity, and formidable length.
If Pauillac can be seen as the bastion of ‘traditional’ Red Bordeaux, then Margaux represents its other facet in producing wines that are among Bordeaux’s most sensual and alluring. It is the largest commune in the Médoc, encompassing the communes of Cantenac, Soussans, Arsac and Labaude, in addition to Margaux itself. Located in the centre of the Haut-Médoc, Margaux is the closest of the important communes to the city of Bordeaux.
The soils in Margaux are the lightest and most gravelly of the Médoc, with some also containing a high percentage of sand. Vineyards located in Cantenac and Margaux make up the core of the appelation with the best vineyard sites being located on well-drained slopes, whose lighter soils give Margaux its deft touch and silky perfumes. Further away from the water, there is a greater clay content and the wines are less dramatically perfumed.
Margaux is the most diffuse of all the Médoc appelations with a reputation for scaling the heights with irreproachable wines such as Ch. Margaux and Ch. Palmer, but also plumbing the depths, with too many other châteaux not fulfilling their potential. There has been an upward shift in recent years, but the appellation cannot yet boast the reliability of St Julien. However, the finest Margaux are exquisitely perfumed and models of refinement and subtlety which have few parallels in Bordeaux.
Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Margaux, Ch. Palmer, Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Ch. Rauzan-Ségla , Ch. Dufort-Vivens, Ch. Ferrière, Ch. du Tertre, Ch. Giscours, Ch. d'Angludet.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
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Paul Pontallier stated proudly that this wine was the best Pavillon he’s ever made. It is certainly a very fine second wine with deep, intense blackcurrant on the nose mingling with oak spice and a massive level of very ripe tannins. The density and concentration of fruit on the palate was clear, resulting in a very succulent wine with a long savoury finish to boot.
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