A few words from Hervé Berland, CEO of Château Montrose, on the 2019 vintage.
The 2019 growing season was incredibly dry and hot. How did you cope with the drought and heat spikes and other climatic pressures during the growing season?
Only summer was dry; spring until mid June was quite wet and cold. The proximity to the Gironde River protects us from extreme temperatures (it acts as a "thermal buffer”) and our subsoil rich in clay releases water throughout the summer.
Rainfall was quite localised during veraison in Bordeaux in 2019. Were there any specific climatic episodes that affected veraison and/or harvest?
The first signs of colour change appeared from 30 July. A uniform veraison followed, slowed down by cool weather in August. We had some rain at the beginning of August, just perfect to end of finishing veraison.
Then two rains, 9 September and 20 September came at a perfect time. We have some strong and powerful Merlot and some rain at the end of the ripening for Cabernet Sauvignon.
The presence of nearly 100 pickers on the property for almost a month allowed us to pick ripe grapes in a reactive manner.
Based on the specific climatic conditions of 2019 did you have to modify any of the winemaking?
As usual fermentation temperature is quite low, but this year we tried to maintain temperature below 26°C.
Can you tell us about the specific blend you used for the 2019 vintage?
The high quality of the Merlot batches allowed us this year, as in 2009, to increase the proportion of this grape variety in the final blend to 30%.
Were there any vintage specific issues or characteristics that affected the blend?
We had very good and powerful Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon were very ripe thanks to favourable weather conditions in September.
How did you work up to final blend?
Each year, all the batches are blind tasted by the Château's teams. The distribution of the batches in our range of wines and the final blends is decided during diverse tastings.
Our intra-plot picking followed by tailor-made vinification allowed us this year to obtain 77 batches of free-run wine and seven batches of press wine for our blends.
What has been the reaction so far to the final blend?
The first tastings suggest a vintage very close to the 2016 with a beautiful structure of ripe, precise, concentrated tannins placing it among the great vintages of Montrose.
What do you feel has had the biggest effect on the final taste profile of the 2019 vintage?
The strong tannins on both Merlot and Cabernet thanks to a very good summer. There was also a combination of efforts made in the vineyard to preserve the quality of the grapes and a fair and controlled extraction in the cellar.
What is the most distinct element that makes the wines different to other neighbouring Châteaux?
Montrose’s signature is particular by his tannins for sure. Very strong but precise and delicate. Cabernet Sauvignon plays its part of the story. 60% of the cabernet is over 40 years old.
Our “terroir” is also very specific; we are keeping its special identity with a selection that we started 12 years ago . We care a lot our about environment and our terroir. We highlight the identity of each micro-terroir present in our vineyard with a very precise harvest. We also preserve them through a global and green environmental policy.
How does 2019 compare to other vintages – what is it most similar to and, at the same time, how does it differ from those vintages?
Close to 2016 by fruit and delicate tannins but also 2015 structure.
What are your hopes for the Château, and Bordeaux as a region?
We want Bordeaux to be a reflection of what it is : an exceptional territory that produces some of the best wines in the world, with an incredible price/quality ratio.
We also want to show that Bordeaux does not only produce austere and sophisticated wines, but wines of incredible diversity and quality.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview