When you think about Margaux appellation, definitely, the first thing that comes to your mind is the glorious Château Margaux, though there is much more to know about it. The designation of Margaux is the biggest of all the most important ones and consists of 5 villages – Arsac, Cantenac, Labarde, Margaux and Soussans. It also has the most significant number of classified châteaux in Médoc – 21, followed by 15 in Pauillac.
Margaux can also boast the smallest Grands Crus Classés of Médoc, one of them is Château Marquis d’Alesme Becker.
The famous book “Bordeaux and its wines,” written by Charles Cocks and first published in 1846, says that “the vineyard of Château Marquis d’Alesme was one the first three planted in Margaux in 1585”. The marquis d’Alesme was a royal equerry and a fervent promoter of winegrowing in the region. His cru was registered in 1616.
In 1810 the property was bought by a Dutch merchant, Jan Bekker Teerlink, who was a big fan of wine and botany. He enhanced the reputation of the brand, and the wine became famous as “Château Becker.” As he traveled a lot and brought many exotic plants from his voyages, the beautiful park around the château started to appear.
In 1855 Château Becker, which already changed the owners and belonged at that time to the Sznajderski family, was classified as Third Classified Growth of Margaux. In 1859 the family built a beautiful palace in a Louis XIII style.
The XX century was not the easiest time for the property. The owners were frequently changing, and it affected the quality of wine negatively. If you look at the critics’ points for the 1990s vintages, they hardly reach 90 points and mostly flair around 87-88. And this is for a third growth!
The new history of the renowned estate started in 2006 when it was acquired by a French businessman, owner of the oil group Perenco, monsieur Hubert Perrado. Unfortunately, he only bought the estate but not the château which still belongs to the previous owners. Sadly, later the same year Hubert died in a skiing accident in Courchevel, so his wife, a Chinese model, Ka Yee Wong, continued the revival of Marquis d’Alesme. In 2008 their daughter, Natalie, became the managing director of the property.
The estate was closed for renovation for seven years, out of which almost two years were spent to find an architect who would be skillful enough to combine the practicalities of the winery with the beautiful mixture of Western and Eastern design that ladies had in mind.
Marquis d’Alesme Becker was reopened to the visitors in 2013, and it immediately stuns with unusual and harmonious architecture. The lobby looks more like a spa salon reception area, so get ready to be treated like a VIP guest. The visit includes the walk into the vineyards and the gardens with an extensive explanation of the philosophy behind each plant or flower. Thanks, Mr. Becker for your naturalistic hobby!
The winemaking facilities look spotless, and again I see the ornaments of the walls that don’t have any practical sense in this production area. They just please your eyes! The moon doors guard the cellars, I enter the kingdom of peace and silence. The wine sleeps here for 16-20 months in the cool, sophisticatedly decorated rooms. Every detail has an explanation in the Tao philosophy, which threads all the architecture here combining functionality and beauty.
I finished with a tasting of Château Marquis d’Alesme 2014 in a beautiful garden café. The wine was still young but showed a lot of black fruits, sweet spices, and opulence, which you would expect of a good Margaux. The property is back on track and produces the wines that deserve their historical status.