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Margaux


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Pichon Longueville

Château Margaux in Margaux. Photo by BillBl on Flickr. License: Creative Commons SA 2.0 Generic.

Prieure Lichine Label

Château Prieuré-Lichine is a 4er cru from Margaux.
This photo is in the public domain.

Margaux is the smallest of the four Médoc villages, with a little less than 2.9 square miles of area. The population, however, is over 1,300, perhaps due to the large number of wineries and winemakers that are located there.

Although it's near to the Bordeaux water and showcases a beautiful climate, Margaux has been entirely developed by winemakers and is virtually a winemaking town. Margaux wines are known for being full-bodied, but they tend to be lighter and have a softer texture than the more intense wines of neighboring villages.

History

Margaux has a quiet history. During the 1700s, its wet and unpleasant marshes were converted by enterprising would-be winemakers into wine land. As the Médoc became popular, Margaux advanced to the forefront of Left Bank wine. Although it lacked the heavy investment by the billionaire Rothschild family that made Pauillac so legendary, that never stopped Margaux from increasing its quality and prices to an almost equally exclusive level.

The 1855 classification of the Médoc included more Margaux producers (21, to be exact) than any other appellation. Unsurprisingly, Margaux was one of the original AOCs, granted status in 1936. Quality remained solid, and Margaux accumulated a reputation for producing unusual but highly classy, reliable wines. This pedigree has caused prices to continue increasing, and wines from top châteaux now cost, while not as much as those of Pauillac, into the high three figures.

Climate and Viticulture

Gravel is much less widespread and concentrated in Margaux than it is in Pauillac, but there is enough to make the Cabernet Sauvignon grape thrive unconditionally. Although not all châteaux have the same amount of gravel as others, this makes for variety rather than an uncomfortable difference in quality. Producers have clearly established the wine production techniques necessary to bring out the best in Margaux's optimal climate.

Grape Varieties

Margaux grape varieties tend to parallel those of the Médoc in general. A typical vineyard blend is Château Margaux itself: 75% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. In the actual wines, these numbers will vary slightly but Cabernet is usually a good 3/4 of most blends.

Major Producers

Latour 2

The Château Palmer is one of the leading Margaux estates.
This photo is in the public domain.

An impressive 21 out of 61 out of the Médoc's classified wines are in Margaux. Margaux has only one of the 1ers crus, but supports itself with five 2ers crus, no less than ten 3ers crus, three 4ers crus, and two 5ers crus. As a result, even the most snobbish wine aristocrats will find at least one wine to buy here, and average wine drinkers will be able to find reasonably priced wine. Commonly cited examples of great wines outside the classification include châteaux Labegorce-Zede and Siran.

One of the five 1ers crus in Médoc is from Margaux.

Five of the 14 2ers crus are in Margaux:

A majority—10—of the 14 3ers crus are from Margaux:

Chateau Margaux 1994

A 1994 Château Margaux. Licensing and other info here.

Three of the 10 4ers crus hail from Margaux:

Only two of the eighteen 5ers crus are from Margaux, which is a good indication of the village's high average quality.

Subregions

Any detailed description of the subregions within Margaux, most of which have been phased out anyway, would be largely irrelevant in a nontrivial, practical discussion of wine. Buyers should not pay attention to the exact place of origin of the wine if it's Margaux. This is generally true of all the Médoc villages.

Lafite 2

Château Rauzan-Ségla is a very highly reputed 2er cru in Margaux. Photo by Benjamin Zingg. License: Creative Commons SA 2.5 Generic.