A Magnificent Brace of Margaux

A Magnificent Brace of Margaux
Paul Pontallier was a great visionary, a man dedicated to quality, who poured his life’s work into Chateau Margaux. He dedicated over 30 years to this exceptional terroir, helping to produce some outstanding wines. One of our favourites, the 1996 has just been upgraded to 100 points by the Wine Advocate, and it is perhaps fitting that Paul’s last vintage, the 2015, was widely acclaimed as the wine of the vintage, and may well follow in the footsteps of the 1996.

We are delighted to be able to offer Paul’s last two wines. He was very proud of the 2014, a vintage that he ranked just below the truly great years like 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010, but above all the other vintages of the last two decades. Alas, we never heard his thoughts on the magical 2015, however, we are sure he would have loved the purity and expression of fruit, the effortless charm and latent power – this is the absolute epitome of Margaux.

Chateau Margaux 2014

‘The Château Margaux 2014, represents 36% of the year’s total production and is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. It has a distinctly floral bouquet, those trademark wilted violet scents soaring from the glass flanked by small dark cherries and a hint of cassis. It gains intensity in the glass but never puts the pedal to the floor. The palate is full-bodied with firm and bold tannins, very good density and presence. No, compared to the top flight vintages from the estate, it is unlikely to become a Château Margaux of compelling precision or finesse. Unusually for 2014 this is a grand vin bestowed with power and dimension. There is still a little tightness here, especially on the Pauillac-like finish, but it will turn into a great if not the greatest Château Margaux. 93-95/100’. WA

Chateau Margaux 2015

‘The 2015 Château Margaux is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, all together representing 35% of the total production at the estate. Raised entirely in new oak, it has a lucid garnet color. The bouquet is aimed directly at the senses - there is no dilly-dallying about, as it almost knocks you off your stool with its intense mineralité embroidered into this iridescent, graphite-tinged nose. The focus and penetration here ranks among the finest that I have tasted at this estate since first coming here in 1997. The palate is astonishingly well balanced, perfectly poised with super-fine tannins wrapped around pure blackberry, bilberry, graphite and cedar fruit. Like the Pavillon Rouge this year, there is a Pauillac-like sense of authority and aristocracy, leavened by Margaux-inspired femininity that completes that standout 2015 on the Left Bank. Beg for a bottle and worry about the cost later. Post script: I composed this tasting note five days before the passing of Paul Pontallier. It is a final gift from a gifted winemaker. 98-100/100’. WA

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