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Montrose: The Importance
Described by Jancis Robinson as “Bordeaux’s archetypal St-Estèphe”, Château Montrose continues to delight and capture the hearts of those lucky enough to experience its enthralling blend of power and elegance.
One of the youngest estates to be included in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, Montrose has, and continues to perform well above its 2eme Cru Classé status. As Robert Parker writes, “this outstanding St.-Estèphe…produces classics that beg comparison to such blockbuster, ageworthy wines as Château Latour” and “rivals the first growths in complexity, richness and potential longevity.” When the Bouygues brothers took over the estate in 2006, they brought out of retirement, and hired Jean Bernard Delmas, the former director at Château Haut-Brion, and in 2012, hired Herve Berland, who had previously been working at Mouton-Rothschild for approximately 40 years. Clearly Montrose has no shortage of First Growth expertise at their disposal.
Consistently well rated by international critics such as Parker, stand out vintages have included 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014, with some earlier vintages such as 1893, 1928 and 1959 becoming the stuff of legend.
The story of how the current owners, the Bouygues brothers came to acquire Montrose show the true power and magnetism of this wine. The idea to purchase the estate came about when Olivier Bouygues tasted and fell in love with the famed 1989 vintage, so much so that he announced that were the estate ever to come on the market, he would buy it. Thus is the draw and allure of this wine.
Montrose: The Insight
The wine produced at Montrose is characteristically rich and concentrated, with jammy fruit, leather, liquorice, meat and sweet tannins. Parker describing the 1990 vintage, writes that it is “a huge, corpulent, awesomely-endowed wine” and this is a wine that typically requires 15 or more years of cellaring, and in the best vintages can excel for up to 50 years.
The estate also produces a second wine called La Dame de Montrose. Unlike the Grand Vin, it is dominant in Merlot and provides an earlier drinking style of wine, although still full of the characteristic power and richness found in the Grand Vin, with real ageing potential, and described by Parker as “…one of the better second wines in all of Bordeaux.”
They also produce a third wine called Le Saint-Estèphe de Montrose, the product of younger vines, popular for how approachable it is in its youth.
The 95 hectare vineyard at Montrose is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The average age of the vines is 40 years, although some date as far back as 1932. Its proximity to the largest estuary in Europe means that the temperature is regulated year round, meaning that the vineyards still perform exceptionally well, in both extreme cold and heat, as experienced in 1991 and 2003.
Montrose: The Background
The sale of this estate to Etienne Dumoulin in 1778 marked the starting point for the winemaking legend that is now Château Montrose. Originally fields covered in heather, Dumoulin first started planting vines on the estate in 1815 and in 1896 sold Montrose to Louis Charmolue, who, born at Château Figeac, was no stranger to the world of Bordeaux wine-making. Charmolue acquired Cos d’Estournel and Château Pomys through marriage, and the family began the transformation of this estate into what it is now. During this period of ownership, the Charmolue family began bottling their own wine, one of the first châteaux in Bordeaux to do so. After approximated 110 years of ownership, the Charmolue family sold the estate to the Bouygues brothers, Olivier and Martin, who also own Château Tronquoy Lalande and who carried out extensive modernisation and renovation costing around 55 million euros.
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