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Enticing Margaux: Château Marquis de Terme

28 May

By Sharon Kapnick

The best Margaux wines are known for their enticing aromas, elegance, silky textures, supple tannins and complex flavors. In her book The Wines of France, Jacqueline Friedrich calls them “the most feminine, the most seductive and sinuous of the great Médoc ACs.” They are, she says, charming and long lived.

Château Marquis de Terme is one. It’s a Fourth Growth in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the ranking system set up by Napoleon III that included 58 châteaux then and includes 61 now. While Marquis de Terme’s  name dates to 1762, today Pierre-Louis and Philippe Sénéclauze own the estate that their father, a wine barrel merchant in Algeria, bought in 1935. During the Algerian war, the Sénéclauzes settled in Marseille and built up a wine empire in France, hiring Bordeaux specialists to run their Margaux property.

Many improvements have been made in the region in the past 20 years. Perhaps the most significant at Marquis de Terme was the hiring in 2009 of Ludovic David as director. David brought technical expertise from his nine years in Pomerol and his four years with Bernard Magrez Grands Vignobles in Bordeaux. At Marquis de Terme he’s been working–quite successfully–to improve the quality of the wines. By employing modern techniques, letting the grapes mature longer on the vine, reducing yield, improving selection and wielding better control of the winemaking process, he’s producing very fine, good-value Margaux.

I recently had the opportunity to try several of David’s wines with him. Bordeaux has been blessed with two fantastic vintages in 2009 and 2010. David says 2009 was a year winemakers dream of. Wine supernova Robert M. Parker Jr. called the 2009 the finest wine he ever tasted from Marquis de Terme. Selling for $36-$80 on winesearcher.com, it’s medium- to full-bodied and has flavors of plums, berries and black currant, with silky tannins.

Even better is Marquis de Terme’s 2010 (selling for $49-$60). It’s been designated a Smart Buy by the Wine Spectator, which rated it 92. It too is medium- to full-bodied and has flavors of plums, berries and black currant, with lovely spicy notes and a long finish. The 2009 and 2010 are 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33-34% Merlot and 6-7% Petit Verdot. Both are excellent values.

The 2012, which is expected to arrive in the U.S. in 2015, has more Merlot (40%), lots of fruit, silky tannins and good acidity; it too is a lovely wine and has been receiving good ratings.

If David is right–he believes that 70% of the terroir Marquis de Terme is outstanding and that it has the potential to be one of the best producers in Margaux–we can look forward to more delicious wines from this producer.

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