2020 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, Margaux, Bordeaux
The 2020 Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux has an understated nose at first, gradually opening to offer raspberry and wild strawberry and subtle iodine scents in the background, precise but not wishing to create too much of a fuss. The palate is medium-bodied with a pliant opening. There is a discreet lushness conveyed by this Pavillon Rouge. At its core is brambly red fruit laced with white pepper and sour cherry, and just a faint pencil lead and black olive note right on the finish. I suspect that this will be a more approachable Pavillon Rouge compared to the 2018 and 2019, but it will certainly not shortchange anyone in terms of elegance.
Drink 2024 - 2038
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (May 2021)
The 2020 Pavillon Rouge shows just how compelling the vintage is. Rich red berry fruit, red plum, cedar, spice and licorice meld together in a sumptuous, racy yet impeccably balanced wine that is flat-out delicious. It displays tremendous reserve, freshness and nuance, and clean veins of salinity that refresh the finish. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The Pavillon Rouge represents 31% of the harvest.
Drink 2025 - 2040
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (June 2021)
Sinewed muscle, nuanced aromatics, graphite, gunsmoke, fresh tobacco leaf and blackberry puree. Great purity of fruits, a ton of lift and freshly crushed mint leaf aromatics that grip and curl out of the glass. One of the really successful second wines in the vintage. 31% of the overall blend. 2% of Cabernet Franc completes the blend.
Drink 2025 - 2038
Jane Anson, Decanter.com (April 2021)
The 2020 Pavillon Rouge is composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. The alcohol weighs in at 13.6%. Deep purple-black in color, the nose slowly unfurls to reveal gorgeous floral notes of lilacs and red roses, leading to a core of blackcurrant cordial, Morello cherries and minted blackberries, plus wafts of crushed rocks, forest floor and tilled loam. The medium to full-bodied palate is a mouthful of pure vinous seduction, slowly releasing layers of perfumed black fruits and mineral accents within a frame of achingly plush tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with epic length and a whole array of fragrant earth sparks.
Drink 2025 - 2043
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
Pronounced fruit and freshness with finely matted, powdery tannins that provide elegance and a suavity of texture. Aromatic and juicy on the finish. Medium to long ageing potential
Drink 2027 - 2040
James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (May 2021)
Blackberry and graphite with dark fruit and violets on the nose. Very complex. Full-bodied with lovely, fine tannins that are lightly chewy. Extremely long and polished. Really refined. Integrated tannins. Wonderful length.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2021)
The 2020 Pavillon Rouge checks in as 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and the rest Cabernet Franc. It has a beautifully pure, classic Cabernet style in its cassis and blue-tinged fruits as well as notes of violets, tobacco, and chocolate. With medium to full body, ripe yet polished tannins, and a great finish, it shows the fresh yet concentrated style of the vintage beautifully. It's going to evolve nicely for 20 years or more.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2021)
Dark, rich, and vivid to smell, dense red and black fruit and gravel, long and floral, too; full, concentrated, and vital in acidity, finely firm in surrounding tannin; pure, intense, vivid, red and black fruit in flavor, long and tasty, concentrated without any sense of thickness, a purity partly conveyed by the acidity making the juices run! A very nice depth of dark fruit behind the acidity, and fine, gently fragrant length. Complete, elegant, stylish.
Drink 2028 - 2050
Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine (May 2021)
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.