Grand Vin du Château Margaux 2020
Château Margaux is one of the 5 classified “First Growths”, promoted by Emperor Napolean III in 1855, in Paris at the Second Universal Exhibition. It has enjoyed a lengthy history and esteemed reputation. The estate occupies 650 acres; 215 acres of appellation contrôlée of which 202 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. There are 30 acres planted with Sauvignon Blanc. There are three red wines produced, and they see fermentation in oak barrels anywhere from 15-24 months. The white wine is also fermented in oak barrels where it is then aged for 6 to 8 months.
Cabernet Sauvignon still forms the heart of the Château Margaux, accounting for 90% of the assemblage. Merlot accounts for 7%. In addition to our emblematic parcels, this year we have added the Merlots from the Haut du Jardin parcel which bring body and charm to the wine as a whole. The Cabernet Franc (2%) and the Petit Verdot (1%) complete the assemblage. Château Margaux represents 37% of the harvest.
After abundant rainfall at the end of 2019, there was very little rain in the first quarter of 2020, 80 mm (3.15 inches) less than the thirty-year average. Winter 2020 stood out for its mild temperatures. Average temperatures were 3°C (37°F) above the thirty-year average and temperatures in February sometimes exceeded 20°C (68°F). Only four light frosts occurred in what was otherwise a mild winter. As a result, bud break was extremely early, from the 22nd to the 26th of March depending on the grape variety, approximately ten days earlier than average. The 2020 vintage promised to be an early one.
The spring was also very mild. Temperatures in April were among the hottest since 1962. Flowering occurred between the 21st and the 26th of May, in excellent conditions. There were no signs of coulure or millerandage. The spring was particularly wet, which meant a greater risk of disease that we nonetheless managed to control (very few signs on the leaves and none on the bunches).
The summer brought long and intense heatwaves between the 23rd of June and the 12th of August, as well as significant drought, with no rain at all between the 19th of June and the 10th of August. Ripening occurred between the 23rd and the 26th of July. It was only during the second ten-day period of August that rainfall helped limit potentially excessive hydric stress. Nearly 80 mm (3.15 inches) of rain fell on August 13th. In spite of the thunderstorms that followed, the rainfall did not significantly penetrate the soil. However, the storms did cause the temperature to decrease and limit sun exposure thus contributing to maintaining good acid potential in the berries.
Conditions in September were also ideal for the grapes, with glorious sunshine by day, cool nights and only 14 mm (0.55 inches) of rain. We began to harvest our early Merlots on September 10th. There were just a few days in mid-September when it became too hot to harvest during the afternoon. The harvest began on a larger scale on September 21st when all our grape-pickers arrived and immediately began picking our Cabernets. The harvest ended on September 30th.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Other Wines by this Producer
For nearly two decades, Château Margaux have been making a third wine from their estate as part of a stricter selection process for their Château Margaux and Pavillon Rouge. Starting with the great vintage of 2009 it was clear that there were high quality vineyards producing high quality fruit that while not quite at the level of today’s Pavillon Rouge, were still of a level that would make Château Margaux proud to put their name on the label.