Tag Archives: Margaux

On your bike at Château Marquis de Terme.

Chateau Marquis de Terme walked away with the top award for the Global Gold Best Of Wine Tourism in Bordeaux at the end of 2016. Their original ‘Best Of’ win was for Innovation in Wine Tourism. They have really embraced wine tourism since their renovation with the arrival of director Ludovic David in 2009. They have an open door policy with receptions rooms for groups and different tours including food and wine tastings for wine tourists.

Château Marquis de Terme

Vineyards are pretty adaptable at catering to the interest of the visitors. Subjects include the history of the property, as most Bordeaux vineyards have a long and fascinating story to tell, wine making, barrel ageing and of course the tasting.

The actual vineyards, the fields of vines, don’t always get a look in. In recent years the role of terroir, the responsibility of the winemakers to look after it in an ecologically sound way and the management of this terroir in a plot-by-plot fashion (precision viticulture) is at the heart of wine making. The emphasis is all about growing as perfect a grape as possible and getting it safely to the wine cellar so the wine maker can then work his or her magic on the best possible raw material.

To do so, the matching of the varietal to the soil is all-important. The terroir of the left bank, where Margaux is situated, is usually described as gravel, compared to the clay and limestone soils of the right bank around Saint Emilion for example. But there is so much more to it than this. To understand the variations in the soil that can make all the difference to wine you need to get out there and take a closer look.

Welcome to Marquis de Terme for their unique ampelography tour. This unique tour was the deciding factor for their winning the Best of Wine Tourism award to innovation. Ampelography is the branch of botany specifically about the identification and classification of vines. Château Marquis de Terme is perfectly situated at the heart of the Margaux appellation, a classified growth of 1855 surrounded by other classified growths. The plots belonging to the vineyard are spread throughout the appellation over four different types of soil; gravels of different dimensions and clay, each identified thanks to precise soil analysis. Each type of soil is deemed best suited to one of the four different varietals that make up the blend of the chateau wines.

After all, blending is one of the signatures of Bordeaux. These Bordeaux blends are always mentioned during the tastings but why we blend in Bordeaux rather than creating mono varietal wines is not always made clear. If you really want to understand this, there is no better way than to go into these plots of vineyard and see for yourself.

On your bike!

On your bike then! Reflecting their environmental values, demonstrated by their ecological certification, these tours are conducted by a guide leading you across the vineyards of Margaux on bicycles. It’s a great way to understand the appellation as a whole and not just Chateau Marquis de Terme. Margaux is the largest of the ‘village’ appellations of the Medoc, known for the complexity of its terroir. Up close you will really see how different viticultural techniques are adapted to each plot, from pruning to harvesting dates, aiming to producing the best grapes possible.

Back at the chateau, wine making is explained, a tour of the cellars showing how the characteristics cultivated on each of the plots you visited are preserved through precision wine making and barrel ageing. And after all that pedalling you will have worked up a thirst for the tasting.

The original of this article was posted on the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Blog 

Vines on vacation

14th July, Bastille Day and it’s time for staff from the Bordeaux château to go on holiday before coming back to prepare for the upcoming harvest.
Touring the vineyards of Bordeaux this week with guests from Hong Kong, there are clear signs of an early harvest on its way. Throughout Bordeaux winemakers are estimating about 3 weeks advance on the usual season and château workers are taking their holidays earlier to be back before the end of August to prepare for a harvest which could start mid September for the reds.
Veraison is clearly on the way in some area see the photos of La Tour and La Mission Haut Brion, which is always ahead of the other vineyards of Bordeaux thanks to its location in the Bordeaux suburbs giving a warmer micro climate.

Veraison at Château Latour this week
Veraison at la Mission Haut Brion this week

An early season does not mean it has all been kindness however. Parts of the plateau of Sauternes were hit by a hailstorm late April.
The Plateau of Margaux was also hit by a hailstorm early June going right through the Rauzan section of the appellation causing considerable damage.
On the Margaux plateau some areas have suffered badly from the very dry and, in particular the very hot, conditions on the last weekend of June have given some of the grapes ‘sun burn’ and in some places, as below where the grapes are exposed to direct sunlight along the edges of plots, grapes have completely desiccated. Showing how important canopy management and leave stripping (or lack of it) is in these atypical vintages.

A touch of sun burn on grapes at Château Haut Bailly
after the hot weekend sun late June

Desiccated grapes on the vines of Château La Mission Haut Brion,
these vines on the edge of the parcel are in the direct sunshine where
they are not shaded by neighbouring vines.

It is a year where the relatively new techniques of optical selection and tribaie will be put to good use;
Rain in the last 24 hours, however light, was a welcome relief .The vine-workers might be looking forward to sun for their holidays as of this weekend but the vines would welcome some water. Looking at the weather forecast the vines might have to wait another few days.
Not all the château close for the holidays, more and more properties throughout the whole of the region remain open to visitors for the summer as wine tourism takes a firm hold in Bordeaux. I would recommend booking ahead however to avoid disappointment.
Happy holidays!

Spend the weekend in Margaux

Margaux is the biggest village (Communal) appellation of the Medoc with 5 villages and 21 classified growths. The weekend of 19-21st November is the perfect opportunity to get to know this appellation better. Margaux Saveurs will open the doors of many Margaux properties for the weekend and it’s not just about wine. As well Châteaux visits and tastings, (including Château Margaux on the Friday).
Properties will offer different themes; technical wine tastings, will include varietal tastings, blending workshops and barrel tastings. Other properties will show how these are the perfect food wines with wine and food workshops from Foie gras to Chocolate. With markets, music, art exhibitions and even a visit especially for children at Château Kirwan it’s a full on weekend.

Check out which châteaux are doing what and when non the interactive map and programme at www.margaux-saveurs.com

The cellars at La Tour Bessan, where you can discover how the wines of Margaux are blended

Why New Yorkers are so fit – part 2

Nothing like exercise to compensate for the Margaux and Pol Roger! But what exercise: Steamy hot Yoga. Bikram Yoga is like exercising in the Sauna… The latest Yoga trend to make its way from the West to the East coast. Having been invited to the Bikram Yoga NYC studio I now have a cleansed liver and I am off for more NYC vinous adventures in the Big Apple.

3 Meals – 3 Margaux

Is Margaux taking over the New York wine market or do my friends and colleagues all have impeccable taste?
Tuesday I was lucky enough to enjoy the oldest Margaux I have had the opportunity to taste; 1959, an exceptional vintage in its time and its power is still in evidence although ready for drinking (so I was delighted to be of assistance!) Wednesday a spectacular 1996 served with dinner at 11 Madison. This classic wine still has a way to go but the aroma after decanting was pure and transporting. Despite the almost 40 year time span the Margaux signature was clearly present in both wines. As if this wasn’t enough for one week: today a Pavillon Blanc 2005. just to show that a Sauvignon from Bordeaux in the right weather conditions, on the right terroir and in the right hands is capable of producing a wine that can compete with any great white. It was the perfect complement to a fish lunch and welcome glass of Bordeaux sunshine in rainy NYC.
Thank-you to my generous hosts – you know who you are !

Roadside dining around Bordeaux

The D2 (the ‘route des Châteaux’) is possibly the most famous road in the Bordeaux region,driving up the D2 is like driving through a wine list. Passing one grand example of architecture after another, the road sweeps through the famous appellations of Médoc, Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe. And most of these have great roadside restaurants.

Travelling from south to north leaving Bordeaux:
Le Lion d’Or is as typical a local bistro as you can get. The ‘Patron’ is a fervent defender of local cuisine and a dedicated ‘chasseur,’ so game features plentifully on the menu in season. Throughout the rest of the year, local specialties include confit of duck, local asparagus and artichokes. Surprisingly, the wine list is petite. This is because the dining locals are winemakers with their own wine lockers that line the dining room. You can admire fabulous wines guarded by lock and key, which only the owners hold! To compensate, bring your own bottle but only if it is ‘rouge’. Should you want a glass of white or rosé, order it from the house list.

Heading north, continue to Saint Julien and stop at the eponymous restaurant. In the summer the terrace is delightful and in the evening the chef will stoke the grill with vine clippings to prepare the steaks and duck breasts. They also have the best dessert buffet in the region.

Just before arriving in Pauillac, take a break in Bages and on the left is the 2-star Michelin hotel and Restaurant Cordeillan Bages , plus a vineyard. The innovative chef Thierry Marx creates modern interpretations of local products and the experience is a mix of dining and entertainment. He is a staunch defender of the local culinary traditions and has been instrumental in preserving the local milk-fed lamb ‘l’agneau de Pauillac.’

For a more modern take, go back to Bordeaux on the only other main road in the Médoc, the D1. Still on the left bank but south of Bordeaux city in the Pessac Léognan appellation, pause amongst the classified growths in the village of Martillac at Le Pistou , a relaxed local bistro just opposite the church.

Carry on further south to the village of Sauternes where you can dine on the terrace of Le Saprien overlooking the vines and enjoy a menu carefully designed to match with the luscious sweet white wines of this appellation.

 

The view from the terrace of ‘Le Saprien’
over the vines of Château Guiraud

On the right bank over towards Saint Emilion, take the ND936 from Bordeaux towards Bergerac and turn left towards Saint Germain de Puch where you can have lunch or dinner at l’Atmosphère , which offers everything from pizza to high-end local specialties such as artichoke and foie gras salad.

Once in Saint Emilion there is only one street to drive through. Half way up Rue Guadet, stop on the left at Chai Pascal for a light lunch with an interesting selection of wines by the glass.

Further up the same street on the right is Essentielle , owned by Jean-Luc Thunevin. This wine bar offers some of the most hard to find wines of the region by the glass accompanied by artisan cheeses and ‘charcuterie’.