Exploring the Margaux Appellation
on 30/05/2022
Exploring the Margaux Appellation

Vast, captivating and richly-endowed with superb winemaking estates, Margaux is an appellation beloved of wine enthusiasts all over the world. Join us as we explore this historic terroir, the cradle of some truly extraordinary wines.

Margaux: history of an iconic appellation

For centuries, Margaux has been synonymous with Bordeaux’s finest wines, and with good cause: it is the only appellation which can boast more than twenty-one Grand Cru Classé estates, making it one of the world’s most prestigious terroirs and the gateway to the Médoc’s legendary Route des Châteaux.

The Margaux appellation (a Protected Designation of Origin, or PDO) lies some 25 kilometres north of Bordeaux, spanning over 1,400 hectares on the left bank of the River Garonne, just at the point where it meets the Dordogne.

Vines have been cultivated in the Médoc since the Middle Ages, with numerous members of Bordeaux’s bourgeoisie electing to build châteaux in the Margaux area, about the same time that the first merchant houses were being formed as the trade in Bordeaux wines flourished. It was during the period of English rule, in the 14th century, that the reputation of Margaux’s wines truly took off. It was around this time that Pierre de Lhomme, a rich draper from Bordeaux, began to plant the first vines around his manor house at “Guyscoutz,” initiating the tradition of winemaking at Giscours.

In 1855, for the purposes of the Universal Exposition in Paris, Emperor Napoleon III demanded a classification of all of Bordeaux’s finest winemaking estates. The châteaux of Margaux featured prominently in this classification. The Margaux appellation as we know it today was not created until 1954, along with the 6 other appellations which together make up the Haut-Médoc: Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe, Moulis, Listrac and Pauillac. Margaux is the largest of these appellations (1490 hectares), producing an average of 63,000 hectolitres of red wine each year.

History of Giscours

The Margaux terroir

More than anything, the Margaux appellation owes its reputation to the quality of its terroir, and the unique character of its soils. Indeed, the appellation is home to some of the finest gravel outcrops in the Bordeaux region, comprising layers of rock which formed over a stretch of almost 3 million years during the Quaternary period.

These alluvial terraces are underpinned by subsoils of limestone, marl and clay, creating an overall soil profile with 6 distinct tiers. Margaux is the only appellation in the Médoc to have such rich, complex soils.

This arid terroir allows for exceptional natural drainage, allowing the vines to express their full potential and contributing to the unmistakeable style of Margaux’s wines.

The exact composition of the soil can vary from one gravel outcrop to the next, and the leading winemaking estates have commissioned in-depth geological surveys in order to better understand their soils and get the very best from their vines, learning everything there is to know about the earth from which they derive their strength of character.

At Château Giscours, our vines are rooted in 3 distinct outcrops of gravel, each bringing its own unique character to our emblematic grape varieties. That multi-layered subsoil is capable of trapping essential water for the vines, whose ancient root networks dig deep into the rock during periods of drought, helping to protect them from extreme weather conditions.

The Giscours Terroir

Grape varieties of the Margaux appellation

The rich soils of the Margaux appellation provide ideal conditions for the most noble grape varieties. Margaux’s storied wines are created by blending several grape varieties, each of which is essential to the end result.

Cabernet Sauvignon: the emblematic Médoc grape variety. The conditions here are perfect for producing fruit of exceptional quality, the basis of Bordeaux’s international reputation. Cabernet Sauvignon vines rooted in these soils give wines that are particularly dense and structured, with prominent blackcurrant and black cherry aromas, as well as a great potential for ageing. In Margaux, Cabernet Sauvignon yields wines of great tannic structure which nonetheless remain elegant and refined.

Merlot: the second most widely-planted variety in the Médoc after Cabernet Sauvignon, and another classic Bordeaux grape. The quality of the Merlot wines produced here have propelled this grape variety to international stardom. Merlot wines are generous, with enticing cherry and blackberry aromas. Sometimes criticized as being a touch too opulent in warm climates, its noble character becomes fully apparent in the great terroirs of the Médoc.

Cabernet Franc: A minority grape variety in the Médoc, behind its descendants Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Franc produces robustly-structured wines defined by their raspberry aromas and spicy notes. In Margaux it retains that spiciness, though it is softened by a great sense of finesse.

Petit Verdot: Another variety which accounts for just a small percentage of the vines planted in the Médoc, but whose distinctive aromatic profile and character make it a very important addition to certain blends. Known for its power, substance, tannins and rich black cherry and violet aromas.

The land of Grands Crus: Margaux and its iconic wines

The metaphor often used to describe the classic Margaux style is a “hand of steel in a velvet glove.” The rugged terroir endows the wines of Margaux with a robust tannic structure which ensures that they are often capable of ageing magnificently, going from strength to strength as years go by, and all while maintaining a wonderful sense of finesse.

Château Giscours is a typical Margaux in this respect. Its style is founded on three distinctive pillars: its aromatic sparkle, its structure and the elegance of the tannins.
It is a wine which can be kept for decades, in the right vintage.

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