Margaux Beyond Château Margaux
By Robert Parker
You could pay $150 for a bottle of Château Margaux, one of the elite, first-growth producers in one of the most famous appellations in Bordeaux. But you can get world-class wines from other Margaux châteaux that sell in the $25-to-$50 range. With these wines, the relatively low prices don't reflect the quality. Look for the 2000, 2001, and 2003 vintages, and the 2004s and 2005s when they become available. Here are some châteaux to put on your list:
A well-known but often ignored château, Boyd-Cantenac has been producing smoky, black-currant-scented, full-bodied, muscular wines. Although somewhat atypical for the Margaux appellation, they are concentrated as well as potentially long-lived (20 or more years).
One of the largest vineyards in Bordeaux, the estate has been resurrected over the past decade, turning out sexy, up-front wines offering gorgeous aromas of incense, blackberries, licorice, smoke, and flowers. This opulently styled Margaux is often showy at a young age, but it will continue to be drinkable for the next 20 years.
Thanks to the efforts of Marie-Louise Schyler, Kirwan is now producing powerful, rich, pure, classic efforts meant for long-term aging. Redolent of black cherries, flowers, cassis, and spicy new oak, the wines are capable of lasting three decades or more.
One of Margaux's more flamboyant showcase wines, Lascombes offers knockout aromatics of spring flowers, crushed rocks, espresso roast, charcoal, blueberries, and blackberries. It is irresistible when young but seems to possess enough opulence and richness to drink well for two to three decades.
Always restrained and never full-bodied, Malescot St.-Exupéry wines have an intense flavor profile and almost ethereal aromatics of red and black fruits intermixed with black tea, truffles, coffee, and spices.
These wines are meant for immediate gratification, not long-term aging. Prieuré-Lichine offers a gorgeous, up-front perfume of ripe fruit, spicy oak, and flowers followed by a supple-textured, lush, velvety-styled wine that is hard to resist.
Under the ownership of Chanel, the perfume/fashion house, Rauzan-Ségla has been resurrected and returned to its proper place in the Bordeaux hierarchy. The wines exhibit powerful tannins and an unmistakable mineral component. However, this is among the most restrained styles of Margaux. These wines are meant for true connoisseurs, and most top vintages, such as 2005, 2004, and 2001, require 5 to 10 years of cellaring before reaching their full potential.
Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.