Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Margaux Wines

Margaux Wines

The Margaux appellation consists of 5 communes: these are the village of Margaux and the neighbouring villages of Arsac, Labarde, Soussans and Cantenac. It is the most southerly of Médoc's appellations. Margaux lies in the Haut Médoc on the left bank of the River Garonne estuary, north west of the city of Bordeaux.

The Margaux appellation extends over 3,200 acres and has 80 châteaux and domaines who produce wine. It boasts 20 of the original 61 classified growths from the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux wines.

Margaux is actually unique in the Médoc in that it is the only one to contain all the range of wines, as rich as they are vast, from First Great Cru Classé to the Fifths, not forgetting its famous Crus Bourgeois and its Crus Artisans.

Terroir and Grapes

Margaux sits upon a plateau of white gravel which has been brought down from the mountains by the river. The gravel lies on an ancient layer of limestone and clay marl. These are ideal conditions for great wines as the soil is the thinnest in the Médoc, drains very well and the vines send down deep roots to draw nourishment.

Margaux makes almost entirely red wine, harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes, with only a small amount of white wine made.

Wine Style

The wines of Margaux are generally thought to be the most aromatic and elegant of the Médoc and are often described as being more feminine than the other wines of the region. They have a perfumed grace and are supple and elegant. They age well as the relatively thin terroir imparts tannins which give them long life. The other characteristic of these wines which combine vitality, subtlety and consistency, is their diversity and personality. They present an exceptional palette of bouquets, fruity flavours which show up differently from one château to another.

Famous Châteaux and Recommended Red Wines

Château Brane Cantenac
Château du Tertre
Château Giscours
Château Kirwan
Château Lascombes
Château Malescot St Exupery
Château Margaux
Château Palmer
Château Prieure Lichine
Château Rauzan Segla

Wines from the top châteaux can fetch top prices but the second wines produced from the Margaux châteaux are superb wines at a fraction of the cost. Alter Ego De Palmer was first produced in 1998 as the result of a new approach to selecting and blending. It's known as Château Palmer's second wine but it really should stand alone on its own right as a Second Label. Prior to 1998 the second wine was called La Reserve de General but this was discontinued and the is now wine sold off in bulk. There are no separate vineyards for Alter Ego de Palmer as it is made from the same grapes on the same terroir as its illustrious big brother. The difference is in the wine making as different techniques and extractions are used to make it. Alter Ego is fermented at lower temperatures to preserve fruitiness. Fermentation typically lasts two weeks for Alter Ego and three for Palmer.

The blending of Alter Ego de Palmer seeks to bring out softness, finesse, and intense fruitiness - the hallmarks of Château Palmer's terroir - even when young. After 16-18 months in barrel, Alter Ego's elegant aromas, concentration, and smoothness make this a great Margaux and a typical Palmer.

Although Alter Ego de Palmer can age for 10-15 years, depending on the vintage, it is designed to be approachable just two years after it is bottled. Alter Ego is full bodied, well balanced, and fruit driven with a finish of blackberry, chocolate, blueberry and cedar. It's a silky smooth opulent wine and has a charming elegance.

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