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November 6, 2011

Bordeaux is Back !

Want to be on the oenophile cutting edge? Put away those Napa cult Cabs and dust off an Old World Bordeaux with a posh pedigree

By Katherine Fraser

Doug Bryant, Maitre of the Atlanta Commanderie de Bordeaux, hosted an exclusive Atlanta wine dinner with the illustrious Chateaux Margaux that left resident wine experts swooning

Chateau Margaux Winery in France Chateau Margaux Winery in France

If opera were a wine, it would taste like a 1999 Chateaux Margaux…

Imagine tasting complex layers of harmony, followed by a sultry intermezzo on the mid-palate, only to finish with a powerful crescendo. To taste this wine you merely need to find it (good luck with that) and then shell out about $600 for a single bottle.

Aurélien Valance of Chateau Margaux Aurélien Valance of Chateau Margaux

The winemakers in Bordeaux have a better idea; they suggest that ambitious wine lovers collect and age their own Bordeaux—buying it at a young age for a considerable cheaper price and patiently letting it age to perfection in your cellar. In fact, Bordeaux winemakers are actively reaching out to America's younger wine drinkers to encourage just that habit with spectacular tasting dinners that feature several vintages of Bordeaux wines side-by-side.  At a recent Next Generation Bordeaux wine dinner in Atlanta, one of only 3 such events held in the U.S., Chateaux Margaux ‘s Communications Director, Aurélien Valance, blessed the event with six stellar wines. This sold-out dinner, held at 103 West, was also unprecedented in that it marked the first time that representatives from the storied Première Cru Chateau Margaux winery (which dates back to the 12th century when Eleanor of Aquitaine gifted it to her husband, the future King Henry II of England) have visited Atlanta.

Why Atlanta? Why now? The handsome and dapper thirty-something Valance is quick to answer, “The American market makes trends, people follow what you do.  We want the trend-makers to know about us.” Valance tells the story of a recent wine tasting in California. Surrounded by a room full of twenty-something hipsters toting their favorite cult cabernet of the moment, he felt a bit silly with his French offering. “But, I saved my (Chateaux Margaux) wine for last.”

After the Screaming Eagles and Colgins were gone, Valance served his Margaux. “When they put their noses in the glass no one spoke for about 10 minutes. The room was very quiet. Afterward they told me they’d never tasted a wine like that, it was the favorite.”

Valance admits that Bordeaux has a reputation for being old and stuffy, conceding that the wines tend to “get lost a bit in all the chatter about the more modern wines, but Bordeaux never gets boring, largely because the wines change in the glass as you enjoy them.” He also reminds me that Bordeaux also has the cachet of roughly 2,000 years of winemaking— and experience counts. (Premiers Cru Bordeaux wines can easily age for several decades.)

Like a true Frenchman, Valance compares the Chateau Margaux Bordeaux to a woman, “They have an elegant perfume, like a lady, and charm you at first, then, over time you see the character behind.” Surface charm and depth of character?  Better stock up now before this burgeoning trend hits the tipping (or should we say tippling) point!




Note Chateau Margaux is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

Premiere Cru Bordeaux from Chateau Margaux Premiere Cru Bordeaux from Chateau Margaux

2006 Pavillion Blanc—Margaux’s second label---A Sauvignon Blanc with classic layers of mineral freshness and delicate honey and citrus notes.

2004 Pavillion Rouge:Dark blackberry and currant fruits with vanilla and graphite notes.

2004 Chateau Margaux:Beautifully integrated, with cigar box spices, leather, warm red fruits and a comforting plushness that invites you to sink into the wine.

2007 Chateau Margaux:Still a youngster, more tightly wound than the other wines but with a compelling, inky complexity.

1999 Chateau Margaux:Like a velvet sleeve with an intoxicating perfume of ripe red fruits, dried herbs and cedar notes and an unbelievably lingering finish to boot.

1990 Pavillion Rouge:At 21 years of age this wine is drifting towards its peak, but still plump with finely tuned layers of rich fruit, leather and smoke, perfect for a cheese course.



Sherlock’s Wine has a formidable collection of Bordeaux, including a very limited amount of Chateaux Margaux.