The 2010 Ch Margaux is amazingly dark purple. Very, very strongly Cabernet Sauvignon (90% of the blend - only 2006 matched it) with some light vegetation at first which opened out and mellowed to something utterly seductive in the glass. Dry and intense. Very rich on the front and amazingly supple – it smells as though it may be going to be a bit of brute but on the palate it is still so intense and polished initially but then it is clear that there are masses and masses of tannins. There is noble, fine, perfectly confident, minerally fruit that opens out on the palate.
It is thinkable to drink this already!
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (April 2011)
Superfocused and superracy, with torrents of cherry, raspberry and plum fruit. Offering terrific mouthfeel, this glides by effortlessly, with a fantastic perfume developing on the finish. Long and iron-tinged. Really, really fine-grained. Other than 2006, this is the only vintage since 2000 with as much Cabernet Sauvignon (90 percent).
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator (March 2011)
The 2010 is a brilliant Chateau Margaux, as one might expect in this vintage. The percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend hit 90%, the balance Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and only 38% of the crop made it into the Chateau Margaux. Paul Pontallier, the administrator, told me that this wine has even higher levels of tannin than some other extraordinary vintages such as 2005, 2000, 1996, etc.
Deep purple, pure and intense, with floral notes, tremendous opulence and palate presence, this is a wine of considerable nobility. With loads of blueberry, black currant and violet-infused fruit and a heady alcohol level above 13.5% (although that looks modest compared to several other first growths, particularly Chateau Latour and Chateau Haut-Brion), its beautifully sweet texture, ripe tannin, abundant depth and profound finish all make for another near-perfect wine that should age effortlessly for 30-40 years.
Robert Parker Jr., Wine Advocate (February 2013)
Possibly the greatest wine this illustrious château has ever produced, and that’s saying a lot. The grand vin contains the highest-ever percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, reflecting Paul Pontallier’s belief in the grape’s outstanding quality in 2010 and vindicating his decision to introduce a third tier red wine to allow even greater selection. An even better wine than the impressive 2009, this is very dense for a Margaux, with sweet plum, bramble and blackcurrant fruit, serious, yet silky tannins and a fine, refreshing, tapering finish.
Drink 20+ years
About this WINE
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.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
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.