Producer: Chateau Margaux
Country Hierarchy: Medoc, Bordeaux, France
Grape/Blend: Bordeaux Blend Red
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Savory and Classic
Alcohol Content: 12.5 – 13.5%
Awards: Le Guide Hachette des Vins, 2002: 3 Stars Coup de coeur
Notes: First Growth. Premier Grand Cru Classe in 1855.
Margaux is an important appellation in the Haut-Médoc district of Bordeaux, southwestern France. Located 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the city of Bordeaux, the appellation is famous for producing supple, perfumed wines, predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Margaux appellation contains 21 cru classé properties from the 1855 Bordeaux Classification (20 of which still exist), more than any other Left Bank appellation. It is also, geographically speaking, the largest in the Médoc, and is divided into five communes or parishes.
Margaux: mansions and manicured vineyards
In the north, Soussans borders Pauillac. It boasts no cru classé wines, unlike the commune of Margaux to its south. The latter includes ten cru classé chateaux including first growth Château Margaux, and Château Palmerwhich is “only” a third growth but regarded as one of the great Bordeaux estates. South of Margaux commune Cantenac is home to seven cru classé properties. Giscours and Dauzac are the crus classés based in Labarde, while southernmost Arsac is further inland and the location of fifth growth Château du Tertre.
In Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac, the vineyards belonging to each château are often clearly divided and consolidated in a single plot, but in Margaux, this is not the case. Here, even vineyards belonging to the wealthier châteaux are dispersed and mixed in with those of their rivals. The result is that the idea of unique terroirs is diluted, and so winemaking practices and choice of grape varieties play more important roles in the character of wines.
The distinctive flavors and textures of Margaux wines are often attributed to the local soils. In Margaux, the soils have a high gravel content (Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe have slightly more clay), which leads to excellent drainage and a low level of nutrients. Vines grow well in poor, loose, free-draining soil; the poorer the soil, the deeper the vines must go to find water and nourishment. This makes them physically stronger and also allows them to reflect the specific characteristics of the deeper soils. The downside is that Margaux’s wines can seem almost too light and delicate in cool vintages.
The grapes permitted for use here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec. They must come from vineyards planted to densities of 6500 to 10,000 plants per hectare (2631 and 4048 per acre).
A Bordeaux Blend, at its most basic, is any combination of those grape varieties typically used to make the red wines of Bordeaux. The phrase, which seems to have originated with British wine merchants in the 19th Century, relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself (© Copyright material, Wine-Searcher.com). Far from being an officially defined or legal term, it is almost never used for wine-labeling purposes (although it occasionally appears on back labels). Its equivalent in the United States is Meritage, which is not only legally defined, but also a registered trademark.
Red Bordeaux Blends are known for their powerful structure and deep flavors. Dark fruits and berries such as plum and blackcurrant are commonly used to describe the flavors of red Bordeaux, although there is an unlimited range of terms that have been ascribed to them. Tannins tend to be relatively high in these wines, giving them a firm structure.
Blending red Bordeaux wine
Cabernet Sauvignon is widely accepted as a compulsory component of any Bordeaux Blend, with Merlot following close behind. In fact, the majority of Bordeaux Blend wines are often made exclusively from a blend of these two varieties. The remaining components are Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, used in varying combinations and proportions. Even Carmenere is on the list of possible ingredients, despite being rarely used by modern Bordeaux vineyards (notable exceptions include Haut-Bailly, Brane-Cantenac and Clerc-Milon).
With the global wine industry expanding and developing at pace, the use of the term “Bordeaux Blend” is changing. Although a product of the Old World, it remains a useful concept, allowing the wine industry and enthusiasts everywhere to talk about Bordeaux-style red wines as an international group, irrespective of regionality.
Flexibility and a useful vagueness are key assets of the term “Bordeaux Blend”, but are also its Achilles’ heel; if it becomes too broad or too widely used it will lose its meaning. Is a Bordeaux Blend still a Bordeaux Blend if it contains Zinfandel, Sangiovese or Syrah? Without a formal definition to go by, the answer to that question lies entirely in the collective consciousness of those who use the phrase. Provided that Bordeaux’s vignerons don’t discover a new grape variety (Cabernet Sauvignon is only a few hundred years old), the term’s definition remains relatively clear.
The red Bordeaux style has reached almost every winegrowing country, with new candidates looking to emulate Bordeaux’s success. North and South America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all have their own expressions of the Bordeaux Blend. Even countries in North Africa and the Middle East produce their own interpretations of the style.
For more information on the various permutations of the Bordeaux Blend, please see Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot, Cabernet Franc – Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc – Merlot.
Food matches for Bordeaux Blend wines include:
- Steak entrecôte marchand de vin (red-wine sauce and shallots)
- Grass-fed wagyu rib-eye fillet
- Roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic
(sources : wine-searcher)