Château Montrose

Vital StatisticsImage

Location: St. Estèphe, Medoc, Left bank, Bordeaux, France

Classification: Second Growth

Size: 95ha in one block (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot

Average production: Chateau Montrose – 200K Bottles (La Dame – 150k Bottles)

Other wines: La Dame de Montrose (Recent move to more Merlot dominant blend)

Price: £40-£200+

History

Montrose takes its name from the flowering shrubs that once covered the scrub land the vineyard now occupies in the south eastern corner of St.Estèphe, running down to the Gironde river. This land was once an unused part of the Calon-Ségur estate that local peasants had long suspected held excellent potential. Word must have got out though, as in 1815 Theodore Dumoulin, son of the then owner started work on a new Château. By 1825 a few hectares had been planted, this increased to 50ha by 1855 under Theodore Dumoulin and when the family decided to sell the Ségur estate they kept Montrose which ended up being ranked as a second growth while Ségur was ranked a third.

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More recently Montrose has bought vineyards from its neighbour Phélan Ségur and seem to be able to attract top talent from other 1st growth château. Jean-Bernard Delmas the former Director of Château Haut-Brion and now Hervé Berland are the most recent directors of Montrose.

The Wine

Montrose is considered to be a ‘super second’, one of the top four 2nd growths along with Las Cases, Cos d’Estournel & Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. It is also considered the top estate of St. Estephe, often referred to as the ‘Latour of St. Estèphe’ for its ability to make good wines in tough vintages and long age-ability.

Montrose – The Real Winner of The Judgement of Paris?

The Judgment of Paris tasting was a blind tasting held in 1976 that pitted some of Frances top red Bordeaux as well as Burgundian Chardonnay wines against emerging wines that where being made in California at the time. The tasting was a watershed moment for new world wines as the panel of French Judges scored the American wines in both red (Stags Leap Wine Cellars 1973) & white (Château Montelena 1973) categories the winners. Judges where asked to rate each wine out of 20 (no grading framework was given), their scores where added together and then divided by nine, apparently statistically meaningless.

If we take this a step further and look purely at the 9 judges highest graded wines (3 judges ranked 2 or more wines equal 1st), Stags Leap was rated as one of the best wines by 2 judges (joint 1st by Raymond Oliver) with a combined point score of 29. Château Haut-Brion was rated as the top or joint top wine by 3 judges, with a total score of 49 points.

and the winner is….

Château Montrose! It was rated as the best or joint best wine by 4 of the 9 judges with a total score of 62. Even if you included the two other Foreign participants at the tasting Steven Spurrier and Patricia Gallagher it wouldn’t change, Patricia rated the Heitz 1st and Steven rated the Stags Leap & Montrose joint first along with Mouton and Ridge (very diplomatic!). So there you have it Montrose was the really the top performer at the original Paris tasting.

Tasted on 07/06/12

1975 – £112 Available from Fine + Rare & Bordeaux IndexImage

Still has a good intensity of color with around 1cm rim-core fade.

When first pored the nose is soft, warm and creamy with dusty red crystalline and a smoky spice with background sweetness. With time in the glass it shows iron ore and well worn leather.

The palate still has noticeable tannin and a vein acidity that leads to bitter redcurrant & cranberry fruit and tomato vine, tannin is very dry on the length.

This still has some life in it if you like aged claret but I doubt it will improve and a light double decant will be plenty to open it up.

87pts.

Image1982 – £205-£238 Available from Fine + Rare, Roberson & Berry Brothers

Still showing great garnet colour & looking very young.

This does take a while to open up, at first smelling quite stalky but soon flowering with an amazing mix of deep, well structured red and black berry fruit, sweet liquorice & plush exotic spice that is constantly in flux.

Perfectly honed acidity on the front palate with a soft tannin that dissipates slowly through the middle and end palate. Crushed red & black fruit that is perfectly ripe but not sweet and beautifully spiced cedar notes on the length. The best 82’ I’ve tried recently and actually lives up to the hype of the vintage, a lovely wine.

96pts. – Stand out wine of the tasting.

1983 – £72 Available from Wilkinson VintnersImage

Good colour but with brick-ish rim.

Very distinctive nose that reminded me of Bahlsen Pfeffernüsse iced gingerbread cookies, tomato vine, mint and oloroso sherry.

On the palate the tannin has pretty much dissipated but there is some lovely fresh red fruit acidity here making for a pleasurable drinking however it does lake impact and complexity on the length.

A very memorable nose and silky palate make this wine highly commendable but I can’t see this improving, drink up!

91pts – Best value wine of the tasting.

Image1985 – £95 Available from Fine + Rare/Wilkinson Vintners

This has a good color, not showing much age.

Earth and gravel notes dominate the nose rather than fruit but there are some red currant notes followed by aged cedar and tobacco leaf.

The palate has way more fruit than the nose would suggest, charming bitter berry fruit and subtle mocha notes that need to be coaxed out of hiding!

90pts.

1996 – £112-£135 Available from Fine + Rare/Roberson

Deep Ruby in color still looking very young

More powerful and compact than previous vintages with dark broody black fruit, graphite, sandalwood, rich earth and beguiling spice.Image

The palate is very polished, well rounded and precise, controlled tannin is starting to loosen slightly giving this a great mouthfeel. Blackcurrant cassis fruit is tightly packed but feels repressed and is not very open at the moment; this is a bit of a sleeping behemoth!

94+pts

1997 – £75 Available from Fine + Rare

Young, deep ruby in color

ImageNose has a good mix of garrigue and earthy notes balanced off by enticing red & black berry fruits, showing a certain sweetness that is reminiscent of the 85’ but with more fruit.

This vintage seems a bit overly acidic, this dominates the palate, especially the fruit, only showing it’s pedigree on the length. An enjoyable wine and quite a glugger but does not seem to have the stuffing to improve greatly and is completely overshadowed by the 96’.

89pts

1999 – £57 from Fine + RareImage

Deep Ruby in color

The nose has a steely firmness to it but is full of black berry fruit, iron filing mineral & mocha notes, this is ripe & majestic.

The palate is beautifully rounded with a good acidic attack on the mid palate and into the length, juicy black fruit throughout with soft chocolaty, fine tannin. This is drinking incredibly well at the moment and was one of my favourite wines of the tasting.

92pts

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A strong tasting with some exceptional wines, stand out was the 82′ & 96′ but the 83′ & 99′ are in a sweet spot at the moment.

 

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