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A century of Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux

With its 2020 release, Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux is celebrating its centenary – and in some style. db’s Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay checks it out.

Château Margaux (Margaux)

The 100th vintage of Chateau Margaux’s iconic Pavillon Blanc is to be released in a unique, wax-sealed bottle personalised with the Chateau logo and presented in a specially designed new wooden case embossed with the epithet “A century of Pavillon Blanc 1920-2020”. The same phrase, screen-printed in white, appears immediately below the label. The wine is available in three formats: bottle, magnum and double-magnum.

The origins of the wine in fact go back much further – as Chateau Margaux has produced a white wine since 1710. But it was only in 1920 that the then Chateau Margaux blanc de Sauvignon was rechristened Pavillon Blanc de Margaux. The wine today comes from an ultra-strict selection of the 11 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc planted at the estate with, in a vintage like 2020, only around 50 per cent of the total production making it into Pavillon Blanc itself.

This is this an exceptional wine, both in the context of the vintage and more generally – alongside Haut-Brion blanc, for me, the white wine of the vintage. I was lucky enough to have the chance to taste it with Philippe Bascaules, Chateau Margaux’s Directeur Générale en primeur in the Chateau itself with the birds singing in the bosquet and the vineyards beyond.

Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux 2020 (100% Sauvignon Blanc; pH 3.10, the same as the 2019; tasted en primeur with Philippe Bascaules at the property, May 2021). Wonderfully ‘Chateau Margaux’ in style – if you’d never tasted it, this is somehow exactly how you would imagine the Sauvignon Blanc that Margaux would produce. Extremely complex and expressive aromatically. Calm, composed and supremely elegant with an utterly sublime nose of wild hedgerow spring flowers, passionfruit, elderflower and jasmine, confit grapefruit zest and confit melon, orange blossom, nettles and a slight hint of mint leaf. It feels very natural. On the palate this has a brilliant sense of lift, lightness and energy. It is, above all, luminous and radiant, brimming with vitality and with its considerable underlying power present more as a pronounced forward thrust across the palate than in any sense of weight or density. This is incredibly tense and vibrant and unlike any other wine of the vintage. I simply love the mineral-charged, sapid salinity on the finish and the little plume of saffron just at the vanishing point. Quite exquisite, beautifully integrated and the most fitting way in which celebrate 100 years of this exceptional and unique wine. 96-98+.

The wine was released last week through la place de Bordeaux and is currently available in the UK for around £1100 in bond for a case of 6 bottles.

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