I first remember coming across the name ‘Margaux’ reading the stories of the fictional English Barrister, Rumpole of the Bailey, many years ago, and the name has always stuck with me as representing very special wines. In truth, I haven’t sampled a great many of these as the wines from this AOC tend to be a bit pricey and today’s selection was one I had been saving for quite a while …
By way of a quick introduction, the Margaux AOC is in the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux’s ‘left bank’, which, regular readers will recall, means that the red wines are blends with the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal. Today’s wine, one of the nicest I have tasted, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
In Margaux, as in much of Bordeaux, many of the wine producing Chateaux are organized into 5 categories known as ‘Crus’, or ‘growths’, with the rest being ‘unclassified’. The classification scheme is a tiered-hierarchy based on reputation for quality and the wine featured here today is from the Château Rauzan-Ségla estate, which has a second-growth status.
Thus far, the only estate in the Margaux AOC to have achieved Premiere-Cru status is the famed Château Margaux, the wines of which I have yet to experience. A little research reveals that a 1983 Château Margaux can be had for only $6,400.00 CDN (although a 2006 vintage is available for $1,145.00). At tariffs like that, though, I can safely say that none will be making their way in to my cellar any time soon.
Anyway, today’s selection was very agreeable, with a medium body, bright acidity and pleasantly aggressive tannins lasting into a long finish. The nose features red cherry with strawberry jam, cedar, and a touch of vanilla while sour cherry and black fruit dominate the palate. There is an underlying herbaceous, forest floor quality, and, as in the nose, some nice notes of cedar with a touch of oak. Some coal-smoke comes through, which some may experience as graphite, and there is strong pepper component to the finish.
Overall, this is a very nicely balanced sipping wine that is robust enough to stand up to smoky-grilled meats and hearty sauces. If you decide to splurge though, I would advise that you decant and let it breathe for at least an hour. Indeed, as with many robust, tannins wines, I found that it was better the second day after opening. I probably would have rated it at a 5 out of 5 had I come across this in the discount bin, but, given the price/quality ratio, I listed in my tasting data base at a 4.