In the 12th century, Château Margaux first appeared in the books as "La Mothe de Margaux". At this point in time no wine was yet grown at the chateau. As Eleanor, the heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet, the future Henry II of England, Aquitaine belonged to England until 1453. This marked the end of the Hundred Years War. This English relationship turned out to be a blessing for the wines of Bordeaux which later started making their way into the English market. Richard Lionheart, the son of Eleanor and King Henry II of England, adopted claret as part of everyday drinking. During the centuries Chateau Margaux was owned by various families of the nobility. However, it was not before the Lestonnac family took over that the estate started to resemble what it is today. Between 1572 and 1582 Pierre de Lestonnac partly abondoned the cultivation of cereal crop in favour of the cultivation of wine and so anticipated the development of the Medoc as a wine growing region. By the end of the 17th century, the Château Margaux estate had expanded to 265 hectares. One third of this area was devoted to wine growing and this still remains the case today.
Napoleon III paid a fine tribute to the wines of the Médoc by organising the Second Great Exhibition in Paris. Following the example of the first Great Exhibition in London, Napoleon III did not want to miss the opportunity to show off the best France had to offer and this included the prestigious wines of the Médoc. In order to make orientation for the Bordeaux wine exports easier, he introduced the Chateaux of Bordeaux wine classification (there is some evidence that Thomas Jefferson had done a similar classification before, while being ambassador to France). Château Margaux is classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classe and Château Margaux was the only wine in a blind tasting for the 1855 classification which marked 20 out of 20. The classification is as valid today as it was then. Even in the 18th century first growths are known to have been sold at twice the price of a second growth. The secret of Bordeaux wine is their strong emphasis on the region they are grown in (also known as 'terroir'). During the French period of the 'Second Empire', the wines of Bordeaux enjoyed a golden age as with steam ships and railways methods of transport improved. Also free trade agreements and the demand of the British Empire had their impact on the developemnt of the wines of Bordeaux.
It was the Marquis de la Colonel who, in 1810, built the château and the cellars as they are today. He commissioned the Bordeaux architect Louis Combes. Château Margaux is said to be Louis Cobes' masterpiece and was often called the Versailles of the Médoc. It is one of the rare examples of neo-palladian style in France, which had its origins in England. Since 1977, Château Margaux is owned by Andre Mentzelopoulos. It is since this time that Margaux has consistently produced some of the finest wines of the Medoc. At the beginning of the 1980s, the wine estate was taken over by his daughter Corinne Mentzelopoulos. The Agnelli family also owns a stake in the wine estate. However, since the death of Gianni Agnelli in 2003, this stake is for sale and it remains to be seen, who takes over. The vineyards, which consist of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (2%) and Petit Verdot (3%), lie on a sandy-stone topsoil, beneath which is to be found gravel and then clay. The wine is fermented in a mixture of stainless steel vats and oak casks and is matured for 18 months in new oak barriques. The best vintages since 1945 are: 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000.
Address (also for Guided
Opening Hours: Visits are
by appointment only, Monday through Friday. Closed on weekends, holidays,
in August and during the harvest. Tasting is reserved to professionals
and there are no direct sales.