Margaux is one of the four great communes of the Médoc (alongside St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe). It is the first commune that one reaches when travelling north out of the city of Bordeaux and it is almost certainly for that reason that it contains 21 classified growths, more than any of the other communes. (Bordeaux wine merchants in their 19th century carriages could access the wines of Margaux much more easily and quickly than those of St. Estèphe.)
Margaux is also the name of the appellations most famous chateaux, the first growth, Chateau Margaux. Thanks to its name (used often in this spelling for the names of wine lover’s baby girls), it is one of the most recognizable names in Bordeaux. Margaux wines are rich and structured with notes of plums, violets and berries in the nose. These rather forward aromas belie a stern structure and solid tannins on the palate leading to the sobriquet “the iron fist in the velvet glove”.
Called rather poetically, Marojallia by the Roman consul, Ausonius, Margaux came into its own in the 18th century when the land was drained and the deep pebbles and gravel beds were revealed. One of its most famous visitors was Thomas Jefferson, the American ambassador who was to become President of the United States, at the end of the century.
Being the southernmost commune of the Médoc, it is also the warmest and harvesting starts usually at least a week before the northern communes. Like all of the Médoc, the chief grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. There are more than 1300 hectares of vineyard in Margaux, making it the second largest commune in Médoc after St. Estèphe. There are around 80 different chateaux producing around 600,000 cases of wine.
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