The following morning had us up early and out the door at 8:30. Our focus today was on the appellation of Margaux, so we piled into the van and headed south, approximately 25 minutes to our 9 a.m. appointment at Château Margaux.
Rated as one of four first classed growths awarded in 1855, Château Margaux is the stuff of legend. The domaine produces its first wine or Grand Vin known simply as Château Margaux. It also produces a second wine known as le Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux. A white wine, called Pavillon Blanc is also produced.
The domaine is rather large, encompassing approximately 650 acres. 200 acres are planted to (mostly) cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet france and petit verdot. 12 acres are devoted to sauvignon blanc, which is used to produce the Pavillon Blanc.
Our group was led into the central chai where we tasted through the 2010 vintage of all three wines. Lots of note taking, scribbling..along with a few oohs and ahhs emitted from our group to be sure.
At one point I snapped this pic of K&L’s Bordeaux big guns, Clyde Beffa and Ralph Sands. 2011 marked Ralphs 41st trip to Bordeaux. Clyde has been coming and tasting the each new vintage in Bordeaux even longer than Ralph. Unbelievable. If anyone knows Bordeaux wine in terms of what to look and taste for it’s these two veterans.
Our next tasting appointment brought us to Château Palmer. Located in the communes of Margaux and Cantenac, this “super” third growth rated domaine is generally considered among the vinous elite of the left bank..right up there with the super seconds like Cos d’estournel, Pichon Lalande and Montrose.
The property’s approximately 125 acres of vineyards include 47% planted to cabernet sauvignon, 47% planted to merlot and 6% to petit verdot. And in rather atypical fashion, Château Palmer utilizes at least 40% (and sometimes as much as 60%) merlot in the final blends. Along with the meticulous vinification procedures one might expect in the production of a super premium wine like Palmer (hand harvesting, triage, temperature controlled fermentation, regular pigeage and (4)rackings) the wine spends 21 months in 45% new barriques.
In addition to the estate’s eponymous Grand Vin, Château Palmer produces a second wine known as the Alter Ego de Palmer. The first release of this second wine was in 1998. Like its big brother, it is comprised of a considerable portion of merlot, and sees around 17 months of elevage in 25-40% new barrique.
The annual production at Château Palmer stands at approximately 20,000 total cases. The Grand Vin accounts for around 12,000 cases, while the Alter Ego de Palmer tops out at approximately 8,000 cases.
Another excellent third growth is Malescot St. Exupery, which is where we were headed next. Owner and winemaker Jean-Luc Zuger tasted us on both the 2009 and 2010 vintages.
Note: amongst the classed growths in Bordeaux, it seems almost atypical to have the owner of a domaine also be responsible for the vineyards and all vinification as Jean-Luc is. What is commonplace in just about every region in France seems to be the exception to the rule amongst the elite Bordeaux estates.
Our final tasting appointment in Margaux included Château d’Angludet. We met up with James Sichel, on of five siblings who represent the sixth generation of the famille Sichel to be involved in the business of wine.
The estate is comprised of 81 hectares (197 acres), of which 32 (78 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. There are approximately 10,000 cases of the estate wine produced annually, and 3100 cases of the Angludet’s second wine, Moulin d’Angludet.
I have always had a real liking for the wines from d’Angludet. This domaine, rated a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, is never the biggest or the flashiest of the bunch, however to me they always exude elegance and refinement. Perhaps the Grace Kelly of Bordeaux. Pick a vintage..any vintage..and your sure to get a flash of old world elegance and finesse.
NEXT: the wines of St. Julien and lunch with Anthony Barton!