Château Margaux is an estate in the commune of Margaux on the left bank of the Bordeaux region. It makes red wine under the Margaux AOC and a Bordeaux Blanc AOC. It modern renaissance dates to 1977 when the late Andrè Mentzelopoulos bought and completely renovated it, hiring Emile Peynaud as oenologist, and ending ’15 years of unworthy vintages’, (Hugh Johnson: Wine Companion: 1991, p.55).
Owner: The Mentzelopoulos family. The late André Mentzelopoulos bought the 260ha estate in 1977 from Pierre and Bernard Ginestet for a reported 72 million French francs (the merchant Ginestet family had been caught up in the Bordeaux financial crisis of 1973-4. André Mentzelopoulos renovated both the château and the estate as a whole. His daughter Corinne now runs it.
History: In the 1700s both Château Margaux and Château Haut-Brion were under the same ownership. In March 2003 Kathleen Buckley & Roger Voss reported in Harpers that Corinne Mentzelopoulos was looking for £206 million (€300 million) to regain full ownership of the estate after the Italian Agnelli family, owners of debt-laden Fiat, put their 55% stake up for sale in the wake of the death in January of Gianni Agnelli. At the time Château Margaux was part of the Luxembourg-based Exor Group which was created by the Mentzelopouloses and now run by an Agnelli nephew, following a majority buy out by Mentzelopoulos in 1988. This resulted in the Agnellis having a 75% stake in Château Margaux. In 2003 Corinne Mentzelopoulos owned 15% of Exor Group, the holding company, and 25% of Château Margaux SA.
Classification: 1855 1st Growth.
The château: The most impressive château building in the Médoc, a porticoed mansion of the First Empire (the empire of Napoleon I of France).
Staff: The late Paul Pontallier began working here in 1983 aged 27 as assistant to Philip Barre who was soon due to retire.
Winemaking: The late Paul Pontallier is quoted by Roger Voss (1996, p.45.) as preferring wooden over steel vats, saying ‘wooden vats, with their their particular shape, have advantages with the evolution of the maceration of the skins, with higher temperatures–up to 30° C maintained longer after fermentation.’
Margaux AOC, Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux:
Margaux AOC, Château Margaux
Kathleen Buckley & Roger Voss, ‘Mentzelopouos seeks backer for Margaux bid,’ Harpers Wine & Spirit Weekly 14 March 2003, p.5
Roger Voss, ‘Guardian Angel’, Wine Magazine, April 1996, p.44-45.