The winery is located in the municipality Margaux in the same area in Médoc (Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux). The origin goes back to a property called "La Mothe de Margaux" by the Albret family in the 12th century. After several changes of ownership, the Lestonnac family gave the estate its present expansion with 260 hectares of land with gardens and wonderful plane trees. In 1802 it was acquired by the Marquis de La Colonilla, who tore down the old Gothic manor house and had the château built. In 1977, the naturalist André Mentzelopoulos bought the winery from the previous owner Pierre Ginestet for 72 million francs (9.15 million euros). The new owner again invested at least the same amount in a new underground cellar, as well as vineyards, gardens, buildings and facilities.
With the support of the famous oenologist Professor Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) far-reaching changes were made, which already had an impact on the excellent and outstanding vintage 1978 after a decade of dry spell with rather average wines. After the death of the owner in 1980, the listed company was continued as CEO by his daughter Corinne. Former Fiat boss Giovanni Agnelli owned the majority of the shares with 75%. After his death in January 2003, the Agnelli heirs sold the stake, including Microsoft boss Bill Gates as an interested party. Finally Corinne Mentzelopoulos took over all Agnelli shares and is now the sole shareholder. Paul Pontallier has been responsible as general manager since 1983.
In the Bordeaux classification In 1855, the estate was placed in the elite of the five best "Premier Cru Classé". It is also known as the "crown jewel of the Médoc" and its wine as a prime example of elegance and finesse. The gravel and stone vineyards on clay soil cover 93 hectares of vineyards, of which 81 hectares are planted with red and 12 hectares with white varieties. These are Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (5%), as well Sauvignon Blanc (100%). The extremely long-lasting red wine is 18 to 24 months in 100% new Barriques expanded. Around 300,000 bottles are produced annually. This red wine should only be opened after 15 years. The best vintages after the Second World War are 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1966, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000.
The second wine is called "Pavillon Rouge" and has the same maturity conditions as the first wine. The Château is one of the few Bordeaux wineries that also produces excellent white wines. The “Pavillon Blanc” is made from a variety of Sauvignon Blanc from a vineyard in Soussans. The long-lived wine only develops after four to five years of storage. Around 40,000 bottles are produced annually.
Several bottles of the 1787 vintage were in the possession of the US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who was U.S. ambassador to France at the time. One of them was created in 1987 by the famous wine author Michael Broadbent (1927-2020) tasted and rated as follows: “Bouquet with great richness and depth with lively, full taste and perfect Finish " . Wine merchant William Sokolin (1930-2015) hosted an exquisite dinner in New York's Four Seasons restaurant in 1989, during which a Château Margaux from (supposedly) Jefferson's property was to be sold in the media at a price of $ 500,000. Before it could be sold, it was broken out of carelessness. The bottle was insured and the insurance paid $ 225,000; it is one of the (never consumed) most expensive wine bottles in the world.
The US actress and model Margot Louise Hemingway (1954-1996) was the granddaughter of the famous writer and Nobel Laureate in Literature Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). After learning that she was named after the wine of Château Margaux that her parents drank the night she was born, she changed the spelling of her first name from "Margot" to "Margaux".