XIX CENTURY

COUNT PILLET-WILL

In 1879, Emily Macdonnel, Scottish lady in waiting to Empress Eugenie and wife of Aguado’s son, sold the château to Count Pillet-Will. It was a difficult period for the Médoc, which was almost simultaneously struck by a great world recession and the incidence of cryptogamic soil diseases.
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In 1879, Emily Macdonnel, Scottish lady in waiting to Empress Eugenie and wife of Aguado’s son, sold the château to Count Pillet-Will. It was a difficult period for the Médoc, which was almost simultaneously struck by a great world recession and the incidence of cryptogamic soil diseases.

The joys and unhappiness of the XIX century contrast with the permanence of the vineyard that had been remarkably well-maintained by successive managers. However, a devastating calamity for the vines was appearing in the form of fungus, powdery mildew and later mildew. Powdery mildew is controlled by the use of sulphur and mildew by the spraying of copper sulphate, the famous “Bordeaux mixture”. Phylloxera, an insect that came from the United States, was a more terrible scourge and its propagation was unstoppable. It would have to wait for the solution of grafting the French varietals on to resistant American plants in order to save the Bordeaux vineyards.

The production of Château Margaux resumed when new treatments were found and replanting undertaken. The remarkable 1893 vintage was so abundant that they had to stop the harvest for six days because they didn’t have enough vats! Its production overtook that of the legendary 1870, the greatest year before the phylloxera.

Nevertheless, the young vines in the replantations weren’t able to produce grapes of optimal quality and part of the production was sold as “second wine”: that would be named the Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux in 1908.

In 1896, Count Pillet-Will found someone he could trust in the person of Pierre Moreau who would play an essential rôle at the property by managing it and bringing together all the future shareholders in Château Margaux.

He nominated Marcellus Grangerou for the position of cellar master who would be succeeded by his son Marcel and his grandson, Jean.

Pierre Moreau’s most important innovation was the obligation to bottle the wine at the château, adopted in 1924, and was a real guarantee of authenticity for the buyers.