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Premier Grand Cru Classé of 1855
Producer: Château Margaux
Chateau Margaux, a Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux, is one of the most famous wines in the world. Care has been lavished on the property by a line of owners with an abiding concern for the reputation of the estate.
For more than five hundred years, season after season, generations of vineyard-workers, grapeharvesters, cellar-workers, coopers and many other craftsmen have all played a part in making Chateau Margaux what it is today: a wine with an incomparable personality, reflected in the elegant Palladian building which adorns its label. In 1977, the estate was purchased by the late André Mentzelopoulos, and it is now run by his daughter, Corinne Mentzelopoulos.
This complicated year taught us many lessons, as it differed completely from the usual, very probably too simple, pattern of the great vintages. It may well be that the heavy rain which came at the end of September was, in fact, a help to the ripening of the Cabernet Sauvignon, as was likely the case in 1995, rather than having the opposite effect as we had feared. Whatever the explanation, this vintage ended up producing a wine which will go down in history for its classicism and purity.
The Cabernet Sauvignon has seldom achieved such a perfection of style and such good balance. What is even rarer perhaps, is to find in a young wine, only just after its blending, the ability to impress and move us at once through the purity of its fruit, the density of its structure and the harmony of its shape. It is a dream of a Margaux which is difficult to resist now, but has a huge potential to age.
The 1996 Chateau Margaux, a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, must be a strong contender for wine of the vintage. It offers everything you desire from this First Growth. It is blessed with breathtaking delineation and freshness on the nose, understated at first and then blossoming with mineral-infused black fruit, hints of blueberry, crushed stone and violet. The palate is perfectly balanced with filigree tannin, perfect acidity, a wine where everything seems to be in its right place. Blackberry, crushed stone at the front of the mouth, just a touch of spice towards the finish that shows supreme control. This is a Margaux that seems to light up the senses. It was outstanding in its youth...something that has not changed one bit over the intervening two decades. This may well turn out to be the Left Bank pinnacle of the 1990s.
Robert Parker Rating: 100
Grape Variety: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol percentage: 12.5%