Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux 2019
• Domaine: Château Margaux
• Appellation: Margaux
• Classification: Second Wine, First Growth, 1ère Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Pavillon Rouge is the Second Wine from the incomparable Château Margaux. This soft, versatile wine can be enjoyed a bit younger than its older sister but still has a tremendous amount of ageing potential, ranging anywhere from 30 to 40 years. It is an excellent wine for those waiting for the grand vin of this storied estate to come around. Château Margaux was a viticultural leader from its inception. This estate was the first to consider terroir’s effect on certain varietals and vinifying white and red grapes separately. Château Margaux also pioneered “night picking,” the practice of picking grapes later in the day to get the fullest, most concentrated expression of fruit. The château was rightfully designated a First Growth in the 1855 Classification -- the only estate to receive a perfect score of 20/20. The Second Wine was introduced to the estate in 1908, under the moniker, “Château Margaux Second Wine.” Like the trajectory of the Château, the story behind Pavillon Rouge is one riddled with fits, starts, and plenty of hardships but ultimately has a very happy ending.
The next several decades for Château Margaux were marked by hardship and financial difficulties. Quality decreased, and in order to save money the Second Wine at the estate was eliminated until 1977. The property was on the brink of fading into obscurity until it was revitalized by André Mentzelopoulos, a Greek supermarket magnet who fell in love with the gorgeous Neoclassical architecture of the estate. Andre spared no expense in returning Château Margaux to its former glory. He reinstituted the Second Wine, naming it Pavillon Rouge in order to improve the quality of the grand vin. After his passing in 1980, his French-born and educated daughter, Corinne, inherited the estate and proceeded to make substantial improvements to the property. Initially, Corinne worked with the general manager already in place. In 1983, she appointed the young professional Paul Pontallier as general manager to lead new efforts to renovate the vineyard. Paul led the construction of a new cellar. He was general manager for over 30 years until his premature death from cancer. The last vintage of grand vin Paul supervised, the vintage of 2015, became the most storied vintage in Chateau Margaux’s recent history. It garnered 100 pts from influential critics, cementing the return to excellence for Château Margaux
Château Margaux currently hosts 192.7 acres of vines that are on average 35 years old. It produces roughly 400,000 bottles of wine a year. The vineyards are painstakingly tended to by hand, and barely 30% of the harvest goes into Pavillon Rouge. Thought the wine is considered a Second Wine, it is not treated as such. The main difference between Pavillon Rouge and the grand vin is simply the age of the vines. The wine is balanced and a blend of power and softness that all Bordeaux producers strive to achieve. Like the story of its estate, the story of Pavillon Rouge is one filled with second chances and ultimately a triumph.
"A gorgeous wine, the 2019 Pavillon Rouge represents 27% of the crop. All of the radiance of the year is on display. Super-ripe red cherry, red plum, spice, cedar and new leather are all kicked up a few notches, with silky tannins that wrap it all together. Even with all of its obvious richness, the 2019 possesses notable energy as well as freshness.
Estate Manager Philippe Bascaules and his team turned out two spectacular wines in 2019. Note: I did not taste the Pavillon Blanc, as the estate thought it was too fragile to ship. Bascaules describes 2019 as an easy vintage. Flowering was normal and set was good. Yields came in at a healthy 47 hectoliters per hectare, more than 2017 or 2018, the summer heat spikes notwithstanding. Bascaules opted to pick the Merlot early and gave those lots a very gentle extractions at low temperatures, whereas the Cabernet Sauvignon vinifications were a much more typical 20-22 days at 28-30 degrees Celsius. In tasting, the 2019s have more tannins than any other vintage, with the exception of 2018, and yet the wines don't show that at all." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com (June 2020), Rating: 92-94, Drink: 2025-2040