The Making of Wine Enthusiast’s No. 1 Wine of 2021

Chateau Siran / Photo by Gérard Uféras

Entering the Margaux appellation from the south, it is hard to miss Château Siran. The pink buildings of the chateau and cellars are surrounded by a park studded with sculptures. Just across a narrow road, the 60-acre vineyard rises gently as the depth of river gravel increases.

An estate that takes its name from landowner Guilhem de Siran has existed on this site since the 15th century, and the vineyard since the end of the 17th century. At one point in the early 19th century, the estate was linked to the counts of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose most famous son was the painter Henri.

Since 1859, Château Siran has been the property of the Miailhe family. As of 2007, Edouard Miailhe is the sixth-generation family member to run the estate along with his wife, Séverine. They have been responsible for the impressive turnaround in the estate’s wine fortunes, culminating in a trio of great vintages. Our number one wine of the year, Château Siran 2018 Margaux, is the most recent release reviewed in bottle, but it has been followed by the equally fine 2019 and 2020, tasted from barrel.

Side by side bottle images of Chateâu Siran 2018 Margaux and closeup of label
Chateâu Siran 2018 Margaux / Photos by Anne Lanta

So, what led to these improvements? Investment and openness to the world are the answers.

Investment in the cellar, completed in 2014, and replanting in the vineyard, now coming into fruition, both show in the wines produced since 2015. Of these two factors, the vineyard work is the most important. The vine composition has decreased from 50% Merlot to 44% Merlot, increasing the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and, intriguingly, Petit Verdot.

The Enthusiast 100: The Best Wines of 2021

“It is not huge and dramatic,” says Edouard Miailhe, “but it makes an impressive difference.”

Miailhe seems most excited about Petit Verdot and its effect on the final wine’s blend. In the past a fickle grape, not always ripening, climate change has made an impact.

“It gives a completeness to the wine, adding pepper and elegance as well as its perfumed fruits,” he says.

Side-by-side images of Édouard Miailhe, owner of Château Siran, and the estate's exterior
Édouard Miailhe, owner of Château Siran / Photos by Gérard Uféras

It’s no surprise then that the 2018 has the highest percentage yet of Petit Verdot, accounting for 11% of the final blend. It is obvious that in the south of Margaux and the south of the Médoc, the variety can now achieve great results.

As the cellar and vineyard have been developed, so has tourism. Before, the estate was closed except to invitees from the wine trade. Now it is open to all. A museum, catering and accommodations as well as visits to the cellar, the vineyard and the park are all now available. Before the novel Coronavirus pandemic, in 2019, there were more than 8,000 visitors, says Miailhe.

On the top wine of the year, the 2018 release, Miailhe regards it as “one of the most complete and rich wines we have ever made.” At 95 points and with “just the right mix of rich tannins and taut black-currant fruits,” it marks the beginning of a new era for Siran.

Published on November 22, 2021
Topics: Bordeaux