Château du Tertre is a thousand-year-old wine estate located in Margaux, France whose vineyards are now spread over 52 hectares.
With historical records tracing the history of the Chateau back to 1143, du Tertre is one of the oldest properties in the Left Bank’s Medoc area of Bordeaux.
20 years ago, in 1997, a Dutch businessman, Eric Albada Jelgersma bought the property and has since invested in completely restructuring the estate, bringing it back to its former glory.
At the occasion of the 2017’s 20th anniversary celebration of this acquisition, and as a tribute to the Albada’s family dedication to restoring Chateau du Tertre, find below my wine reviews, ratings and tasting notes for Château du Tertre’s wines from 1997 to 2016.
Everything You Should Know about Château du Tertre
A Name, A History
Château du Tertre took its name from its relatively elevated situation. The word Tertre translates in English as “mound” or “hillock” is in an elevated area, because the Château’s property is located on one of the highest gravel outcrops on the Médoc area, and certainly one of the highest in Margaux.
From the 12th Century, the History of du Tertre includes prestigious and locally-significant owners such as Thomas de Montaigne, brother of the famous French philosopher and writer Michel de Montaigne, who married Jacquette d’Arsac in 1590 to become a local lord. Followed the Arrérac and the Ségur families, before Pierre Mitchell (1687-1740) acquired the property in 1724.
Pierre Mitchell was an important glass blower of the Bordeaux region, and nothing less than the first creator of the Jeroboam bottle (also called Double-Magnum, or a 3-litre wine bottle). Mitchell built the current Château circa 1736. Because he was a glass blower, it is believed that some of Chateau du Tertre’s wine was glass-bottled as early as the 1700’s which was extremely rare at the time.
Notably, and acknowledging the quality of the estate’s production, Château du Tertre was classified as 5th First Growth (5ème Grand Cru Classé du Médoc) in Napoleon’s 1855 classification.
But the phylloxera crisis of the 19th century that destroyed most of Bordeaux’ vineyards, the Great Depression in 1929, and WWII, got the best of du Tertre and left the estate devastated when the Capbern-Gasqueton family, also owner of Chateau Calon-Ségur in Saint-Estèphe bought it in 1961.
Following the death of Philippe Gasqueton in 1995, the property was sold in 1997 to current Dutch owner, Eric Albada Jelgersma who, with his family and the help of Manager Alexander Van Beek has been investing in the vineyard, winery and the property to restore its former glory.
The Albada family also owns Third Growth of Margaux, Château Giscours and a biodynamic winery on the Tuscan coast: Caiarossa.
Château du Tertre property spreads over 80 hectares (200 acres) in total, about 53 ha of which (130 acres) are planted in vines with the classic Bordeaux grapes varieties. The vineyards neighbour those of such famous Margaux Classified estates of Cantenac-Brown and Brane-Cantenac to the north and Giscours to the east.
Vines average 35 to 40 years of age, with certain blocks hosting old vines planted in the 1960s. With the important restructuring of the past 20 years, the plantation density has been increased, the majority of the vineyards boasting 9,200 vines per hectare.
The terroir here is typical of Medoc, with deep gravelly soils offering good drainage and moderate hydric stress, ideal for quality viticulture. The climate is clearly oceanic influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean and Gironde estuary.
In the vineyards, progressive conversion to biodynamic farming started back in 2008 on a block-by-block basis to ensure a thorough understanding of the real-world needs of the vines. In 2017, about 55% of the vineyard is being farmed with biodynamic techniques while more and more vineyards are converted to biodynamic farming every year, aiming for 100% as soon as possible.
To vinify each block separately, Chateau du Tertre’s winery is equipped with 24 wooden tanks, 16 stainless steel ones, 10 concrete vats, and 4 egg-shaped cement vats.
Malolactic fermentation takes place either in French oak wine barrels or in concrete vats.
Follows a maturation in oak wine barrels for about 18 months, more or less depending on the need of each vintage, with about 50% new oak barrels each year for the Grand Vin (first label).
Chateau du Tertre also produces a second label called Les Hauts de Tertre, as well as small quantities of an unusual white wine, blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Gros Manseng: Tertre Blanc.
Today, the technical director and winemaker at Château du Tertre is Frédéric Ardouin who came from First Growth Château Latour in Pauillac in 2008.
Château du Tertre Wines
On the 20th June 2017, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Albada family’s involvement at du Tertre, I was given the unique opportunity to taste, vertically, 20 vintages of Château du Tertre.
Note that my tasting notes below are for wines tasted out of magnums (1.5 litre bottles). In magnums, wines typically age more harmoniously and for longer than in standard 750-ml bottles.
Which vintage of Chateau du Tertre should you Buy?
If you’re after matured wines, that are perfectly ready to drink now with bouquet and complexity (that 15+ years old for this kind of wine), and at a reasonable price, the 1999 and 2002 vintages are impeccable wines. DOn’t overlook 2001 either, a relatively light but elegant and well-made wine.
Of course, the great 2000 vintage is a little superior, but it will be more expensive too.
2003 and 2005 vintages are genuinely outstanding and starting be ready for full enjoyment. 2003 is particularly opulent, ripe and expressive, combining power from a warm vintage yet with the elegance of Margaux. 2005 is on a rise now, starting to show off how outstanding a vintage it was.
2008 is very consistent vintage at du Tertre, providing an all-rounder of a wine that will please most palates.
If you’re looking for the best of the bests, well 2009, 2010 and 2015 are what to look out for with genuinely outstanding conentration and ageing potential, with a personal favorite for me on 2010: dense, round and soft, everything you expect from a great Margaux.
Of course, 2015 is unlikely to be fully ready for best enjoyment before 10 years, let’s say 2025. Now if you’ve had a baby or grand-child born that year, it will most-likely be excellent in 20 years of more.
2016 is looking very promising at Chateau du Tertre too.
Overall, this 20 years vertical tasting highlights how the quality of Chateau du Tertre wines has consistently improved over the past vintages, despite the vintage variations.
Yes good or excellent vintages, soon after the start of the restructuring of the estate in 1997 were already very good, the Margaux terroir was there to speak quality for itself, like in 2000.
But recent good vintages are more than excellent, they are outstanding, allying finesse with concentration, 2010 and 2015 being the modern demonstrations of how much work and effort has been involved by the Chateau’s team to make du Tertre great again.
Find below detailed reviews and ratings of the Chateau’s last 20 vintage wines.
20 Vintages of Château du Tertre Margaux Wines : Ratings & Reviews
- 1997 Château du Tertre
Score: 90/100 pts
Intense red color with marked brown hues, it still looks vibrant. The nose displays intense and very elegant, deep notes of black olive and dark cocoa. A savory feel to the smell combines with warm and vibrant fruity notes of fresh plum and sour cherry. Soft smooth tannins with a grippy edge to the finish. Long, spicy and elegant flavors with an utterly enjoyable bitterness to the finish. Drink now and within 5 years.
- 1998 Château du Tertre
Dark red-to-black color with solid intensity, some orange hues but still vibrant red hue overall. Spicy and restrained nose, black pepper and clove dominate while subtle and delicate fresh red berries aromas shine through. Powerful palate burst in a myriad of dark spices and torrefaction notes. Cheery liqueur is also intense. Very long and complex. The outstanding features are the powerful flavors, great complexity marrying many varied flavors, and depth from a complex bouquet allied to still-vibrant primary fruit notes.
- 1999 Château du Tertre
Intense & dark brown red color. Powerful yet introvert nose of clove, caramel, licorice an cherry liqueur. Super-smooth palate, on restrained dark cocoa and sweet spices flavors, brightened up by fresh blackberry tones. From a restrained fruity palate, on depth and complexity, it develops in your mouth bringing power and explosive spiced cherry liqueur notes. Probably around its peak now, a powerhouse of depth combined with finesse and elegance.
- 2000 Château du Tertre
Dark red color with marked brown hues. The nose is bright and open, vibrant and expressive. The dark cherry dominates the aromatic profile and brings in a very fruity edge to the nose, well balanced by hints of vanilla, caramel, clove, and sweet spices probably from the oak that is still perceptible and fresh. Round and mouth-filling palate, somewhat of an oily texture testify of the wine’s ampleur, with soft but dense tannins. The fruity notes in here are still vibrant and fresh, suggesting this vintage could easily withstand another 10 years of ageing, developing even further depth, although great to enjoy now and enjoy brightness of its primary fruits.
- 2001 Château du Tertre
Dense red color, lighter than previous vintages tasted here to look at. The nose however is brightly open and expressive, exuberant I’m tempted to say. Bursting aromas of Provencal herbs combine with vibrant raspberry jam in a dancing frenzy, delighting the nose. Very soft and refined palate, with some density but an outstanding finesse to the feel. Probably a little lighter in absolute than previous vintages (1999 and 2000). But this 2001 shines brighter than many, utter finesse and elegance, great and ready to drink now.
- 2002 Château du Tertre
Dark and dense red color, nearly black. Powerful nose that feels warm and generous. Very dark savory cocoa feel, with coffee liqueur, vanilla, caramel and other torrefacted notes deepening fresh ripe plum and prune fruit aromas. Dense granulous tannins, with a fresh and lively acidity. Grippy and a little dry a finish gives this vintage a generous and pleasing, characterful personality.
- 2003 Château du Tertre
Dark red color, with some brown hues but looking rightly red overall. The nose is open and generous. Fennel, dark clove and vanilla combine with fresh strawberry jam aromas making it smell like a tempting spiced strawberry chocolate cake, the depth and complexity of a great Bordeaux wine on top of that obviously 😉 The extremely round and oily palate of this warm 2003 vintage is outstanding in this line up. It’s also got a solid tannic density but feels silky-soft, with a great acidity too. Very powerful and concentrated, complex flavor profile make for a stand-out vintage. Like the nose, flavors are dark and torrefacted, subtly fruity, very deep. This will still be a long-lived wine, great to drink now but that should continue to develop positively for an easy 10 to 15 years.
- 2004 Château du Tertre
Dark red, very bright red tones with brown hues. The nose is bursting with fresh berry aromas, with a profile very typical of Medoc Cabernet, blackcurrant edging on bell pepper. Solid tannic structure with granulous texture, a little edgy, but enjoyable savory bitterness to the finish. Green olives, and the black ones too are enjoyably dominant flavors, joined by myriads of spices, outstanding pepperiness, and subtle fruit. Drink now and within 5 years. A vintage to enjoyable for its freshness and fruitiness.
- 2005 Château du Tertre
Dark red color. The nose is generous, filled with cooked apples and blackberry jam, deepened and complexified by sweet spices and elegant torrefaction notes (cocoa, coffee, toasted bread). An opulent and open-book of an aromatic profile, it is talkative, expressive and easy to understand wine to smell. The palate is equally opulent and generous too, with a round, oily texture coating granulous tannins harmoniously. Bursting and complex warm flavors kick in strongly on the mid-palate to deliver a long and powerful, layered finish. A vintage to match powerful tasty foods. Drink now or cellar for up to 15 years.
- 2006 Château du Tertre
Dark red color. Vibrantly fruity nose, concentrated and deep raspberry and blackberry jam, an unbelievable amount of spices seem to have been stuffed into this vintage. Charming, incredibly intense and intriguing to smell at, from its generously fruity and spicy depth. Sold silky tannins nicely and elegantly coat your palate. A lighter vintage that delivers a bi-faceted feel between generous fruitiness and spices in a remarkable finesse. Extremely good to drink now to make the most of its now-vibrant fruity expression, or cellar for up to 10 years if you’re after more bouquet.
- 2007 Château du Tertre
Outstanding compote (cooked fruits) smell to this 2007 vintage, rhubarb jam, prune, and cherry and coffee liqueur. Soft tannins, lighter body than most other vintages, a little lighter in acidity too. But the palate bursts in intense flavors of spices, green pepper, generous caramel and sweet spices. Drink now and within 5 years.
- 2008 Château du Tertre
Dark red color with some brown hues. Generous smell, blackcurrant, sweet spices. Vibrant fruitiness combines with a wealth of spices. Good oily texture, mid body and tannins, edgy granulous tannins. An excellent all-rounder of a vintage offering a nice kick of vanilla and coffee liqueur on the mid-palate. Drink between 2020 and 2025.
- 2009 Château du Tertre
Dark and vibrant red color. It boasts an outstandingly fresh and telling aromatic profile, filled with bright blackcurrent notes, plenty of spices too. It’s generous, open, deep and complex to smell at. Add some vanilla, pepper and much more, there is so much going on to the nose. The soft palate also provides abundant flavors of fresh ripe blackcurrent, a rarity at this level of both freshness and depth making of this 2009 a truly outstanding vintage at du Tertre. The concentration of spices and the well-integrated oak seem to be just a perfect addition, to deepen and underline the fruit in an utter balance and elegance.
- 2010 Château du Tertre
Dark red color with purple hues, this 7 year-old wine is still looking youthful, the first one to look so in this line up. It delivers vibrant dark ripe cherry flavors, dark chocolate and vanilla too in an absolute depth promising to turn into an extraordinary wine when it will have opened up further and developed further bouquet. Extremely dense tannins, round and soft texture make for a balanced wine, with concentrated cherry flavor, and an outstanding length. The best vintage of these past 20 years, the potential in this 2010 is immense. Cellar for 10 to 25 years.
- 2011 Château du Tertre
Fruity nose with a wealth of well-integrated oak. Cherry, blackcurrant jam, and vanilla. We have here a ripe vintage, with obvious oak that still needs to be absorbed and integrated over time. Dense and opulent palate, with very dense tannins. Great power and concentration, filled with ripe fruit character. A powerhouse of a vintage providing great concentration. Give it at least another 5 years as this is just a baby of a great Margaux wine. From there it will open up and develop into a fantastic wine easily until 2030.
- 2012 Château du Tertre
This vintage still needs time to open up, as it feels a little tight to smell at, especially I suppose out of a magnum as tasted here. It is ripe to smell at showing some intense ripe red berry characters, fresh cherry and fresh blackberry together with an elegant spiciness. The palate is of medium concentration and body, and so far with edgy tannins, hints of greenness. A wine that required ageing to be rounded up and softened, deepened too. Drink between 2024 and 2030.
- 2013 Château du Tertre
With fennel and touches of greenness to the nose, the freshness of its blackcurrant aromas is outstanding and delightful. Its vibrant acidity underlines the wine’s fruity approach, on mid-body and tannins. An approachable yet complex vintage, that makes up for is lack of concentration and depth by being friendly and less sophisticated than others. Drink between 5 and 15 years.
- 2014 Château du Tertre
The nose is vibrant and powerful to smell, with green pepper spiciness and intense cherry notes. Generous and spicy. The tannins are soft, in a good overall concentration and again these lively cherry flavors that dance on your palate and make for a joyful vintage elevated by leesy, smoky characters. Allow it 8 years of ageing to soften its pointy edges and deepen. Drink between 2025 and 2035.
- 2015 Château du Tertre
A dense and very solid vintage, delivering both great acidity and great overall concentration. The wine’s balance results in an outstanding finesse for a complete vintage with great potential. The best vintage since 2010 and clearly one of the bests in this century.
- 2016 Château du Tertre
Taste en primeur obvious, out of barrel samples as the vintage has not been bottled yet. Such a vibrant purple color affirming great concentration. It is very fruity, displaying fine and vibrant cherry notes, ripe blackberry and already extremely-well-integrated oak notes for a wine that is still maturing in barrel, proof that the wine’s concentration is solid. Proof also how the winemaking team controls and restrains correctly and precisely the level of new oak to be used on their wines. It is powerful and dense a vintage, with delicate hints of green pepper but most importantly bursts of fresh fruit characters and deep spices. Soft and velvety texture.
See this Exceptionnal Tasting Event in Video
For further info about Chateau du Tertre, refer to the winery’s website chateaudutertre.fr