Highest rated vintages for Margaux
Absolutely compelling in two tastings of this vintage, the 2000 Margaux is composed of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. The extraordinary seductiveness, complex aromatics, and purity it exhibits lead me to believe it has reached its window of full maturity. Medium-bodied, with layers of concentration, stunning blue, red, and black fruits intermixed with spring flowers, a subtle dosage of new oak, and a distinctive personality that is elegant while at the same time powerful and substantial, this is a multi-dimensional wine that was extremely approachable and drinkable in both tastings I had of it. The color remains a healthy, even opaque bluish/purple, but there is no reason to hesitate to drink it. It should evolve for another 30-40 years, so there is no hurry either.
I had this wine both in Seoul, Korea in February, and from my cellar in December, 2008, and it was remarkable how identical the wines smelled and tasted. It offers an extraordinary aromatic display of spring flowers, camphor, sweet red and black fruits, a hint of licorice, and no evidence of its 100% new oak cask aging. Round and generous with low acidity, but an opulent, full-bodied richness that is fresh with laser-like precision, this stunning wine is just beginning to reach its plateau of full maturity, where it should remain for another three decades. A sensational effort, it is one of the legendary wines made at Chateau Margaux. Release price: ($1800.00/case)
A brilliant offering from the Mentzelopoulos family, once again their gifted manager, Paul Pontallier, has produced an uncommonly concentrated, powerful 2009 Chateau Margaux made from 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest primarily Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. As with most Medocs, the alcohol here is actually lower (a modest 13.3%) than most of its siblings-. Abundant blueberry, cassis and acacia flower as well as hints of charcoal and forest floor aromas that are almost Burgundian in their complexity are followed by a wine displaying sweet, well-integrated tannins as well as a certain ethereal lightness despite the wine's overall size. Rich, round, generous and unusually approachable for such a young Margaux, this 2009 should drink well for 30-35+ years.
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.
The 1996 Chateau Margaux, which was bottled in September, 1998, is undoubtedly one of the great classics produced under the Mentzelopoulos regime. In many respects, it is the quintessential Chateau Margaux, as well as the paradigm for this estate, combining measured power, extraordinary elegance, and admirable complexity. I tasted the wine on three separate occasions in January, and in short, it's a beauty! The color is opaque purple. The wine offers extraordinarily pure notes of blackberries, cassis, pain grille, and flowers, gorgeous sweetness, a seamless personality, and full body, with nothing out of place. The final blend (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) contains a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. It tastes complete and long, although backward. My instincts suggest this wine will shut down, but at present it is open-knit, tasting like a recently bottled wine. The fruit is exceptionally sweet and pure, and there are layers of flavor in the mouth. I do believe this wine will develop an extraordinary perfume, and possess a high level of richness. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2040
Am I being too stingy with the 2003 Chateau Margaux? A wine of extraordinary complexity and intensity, it reveals a deep purple color, a style not unlike the 1990 Margaux (possibly even more concentrated), a velvety texture, and notes of spring flowers interwoven with camphor, melted licorice, creme de cassis, and pain grille. Not a blockbuster, it offers extraordinary intensity as well as a surreal delicacy/lightness. There is riveting freshness to this offering, which tips the scales at a lofty (for this estate) 13.5% alcohol, as well as an alluring sweetness and accessibility. It probably will tighten up over the next few years. Nevertheless, it is a profound Chateau Margaux that brings to mind a hypothetical blend of the 1982 and 1990. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2035.
Consistently scoring between 98-100, the superb 1982 Margaux may be slightly bigger, bolder, and more masculine than vintages produced over the last 15-20 years. Its dark plum/purple color is followed by notes of melted tar intermixed with sweet cassis and floral underpinnings. Very full-bodied and dense for a Chateau Margaux, with a slight rusticity to the tannins, it boasts blockbuster power, richness, and impressive aromatics. It appears set for another 30-40 years of life. Release price: ($360.00/case)
A magnificent example of Chateau Margaux and one of the most tannic, backward Margauxs of the last 50 years, the 1986 continues to evolve at a glacial pace. The color is still a dense ruby/purple with just a hint of lightening at the rim. With several hours of aeration, the aromatics become striking, with notes of smoke, toast, creme de cassis, mineral, and white flowers. Very full-bodied, with high but sweet tannin, great purity, and a very masculine, full-bodied style, this wine should prove nearly immortal in terms of its aging potential. It is beginning to budge from its infantile stage and approach adolescence. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2050. Last tasted, 12/02.
Another celestial effort from Paul Pontallier and Corinne Mentzelopoulus, the 2005 Margaux, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, boasts a dense opaque blue/purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, creme de cassis, licorice, and, despite its having spent two years in 100% new wood, only a subtle touch of toasty oak. Although full-bodied, the wine seems light on its feet because of the silky tannins as well as the great gravel terroir from which it comes. Beautiful purity, length, and nobility define this modern day classic. Is it better than the 2000, 1996, 1990, or some of the vintages from the decade of the eighties? Who knows, but it is unquestionably one of the all-time great wines made at Chateau Margaux. This estate has produced only exceptional wines over the last three decades. The seamlessness of the 2005 suggests it will perform well early, but it should last for a half century or more. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2050+.
Bottled very late (November, 1997), the 1995 has continued to flesh out, developing into one of the great classics made under the Mentzelopoulos regime. The color is opaque ruby/purple. The nose offers aromas of licorice and sweet smoky new oak intermixed with jammy black fruits, licorice, and minerals. The wine is medium to full-bodied, with extraordinary richness, fabulous equilibrium, and hefty tannin in the finish. In spite of its large size and youthfulness, this wine is user-friendly and accessible. This is a thrilling Margaux that will always be softer and more evolved than its broader-shouldered sibling, the 1996. How fascinating it will be to follow the evolution of both of these vintages over the next half century. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2040.