Montrose

 

MONUMENTAL WINE FROM SAINT-ESTEPHE - ONE OF BORDEAUX FINEST!

 

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Spectacular view from Montrose vineyard to Gironde river

One of my favorite Bordeaux wines since long time. While being particularly strong in 1950's and 1960's, Montrose got nickname "Latour of Saint-Éstephe" due to its power, strength, massive concentration, depth and long finish. It's always been classy, stylish Bordeaux with long life. When mature, it's a wonderful wine to enjoy. Vintages like f.i. 1952, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1964 (harvest just finished few hours before huge rainfall) are legendary. Not to mention phenomenal vintages like 1989 and 1990.

After long reign of Charmolüe family, Montrose changed hands in 2006, when Bouygues family bought this property. The new owners hired famous Jean-Bernard Delmas, who was responsible for many stunning vintages at Haut Brion/La Mission Haut Brion, as a consultant. Herve Berland, previously managing director at Mouton Rothschild since 2006 and who retired in 2011, has taken over technical director duties at Montrose in April 2012.

Montrose enjoys an extremely favourable location close to banks of Gironde river which ensures very stable micro-climate. This micro-climate prevents frost to do a damage here - Montrose lost only 10% of its vines in the spring of 1991 when the "black" frost (gelée noire) hit Bordeaux and destroyed many thousands vines all over area. There are 95 ha of vines, all in one block, growing on 3-4 meters deep layer of heavy gravel mixed with ferrous sand and with subsoil of clay and marl. Cépage is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, vines are more than 30 years old on average.

New owners have since acquisition of Montrose in 2006, made extensive works in order to modernize, improve facilities and streamline logistics. New cellar for instance looks monumental. Because of use of solar cells, Montrose is more than self-sufficient in electricity. Montrose has appointed new cellar-master from 1st June 2014.

Montrose is without doubt a Super Second wine. In my opinion, the style of Montrose changed a bit after change of ownership. It's become more modern with slightly more extraction and more use of oak. Still, Montrose is a very true Bordeaux wine, reflecting the terroir. 

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New cellar at Montrose as seen in April 2014 - looks simply fantastic

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MONTROSE 2015 (barrel sample) 98-99p

Tasted in April 2016. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. 13,8% alcohol. "Iron fist in velvet glove" or "wolf in sheep's clothes", boom, big concentration of everything, enormous depth and length, fabulous complexity and richness. Magnifique! Surely in my top ten of 2015 wines. 1. Growth quality!

MONTROSE 2014 (barrel sample) 95p

Tasted in March 2015. Strong and chewy wine, splendid acidity, full-bodied and tannic, long finish. It has a rock-solid fundament on which fruit and tannin can "play" together for many, many years. This wine can develop into something really spectacular.

MONTROSE 2013 (barrel sample) 92p

Tasted in April 2014. It was very well-knitted, complex and finely structured, lighter than usual, equipped with silky fruit and tannin, and smooth finish. One to enjoy before big and long-lived vintages 2005, 2009 and 2010.

MONTROSE 2012 94p

Tasted five times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. In April 2013, this wine had very fine nose of black cherries/blueberries, aromatic and seductive, velvety palate and very good length. On the light side. Gained in weight and concentration during second year in barrel, which also was confirmed while tasted in March 2015. Truffy end elegant wine. Even better in November 2015 with delicious nose of grated chocolate, big intensity, splendid structure, impressive length and finish. Same in June 2016.

MONTROSE 2011 93p

Tasted six times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. It displayed very enchanting nose of black fruit, seductive and intense, silky texture overall, well-structured and well-balanced, long finish. Splendid for the vintage. Now in bottle (April 2014) and this wine has improved - gained in intensity, complexity, depth and length. Confirmed in March 2015 and June 2016. Not the same level of sweetness here as in 2012, but more sdepth and concentration.

MONTROSE 2010 100p

Tasted fiver times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. This was a monster wine with its thick aroma of black fruit, enormous concentration, very strong backbone, perfectly ripe fat fruit and fat tannin, stunning complexity and structure, impeccable balance. Incredibly stylish 2010 and showing 100% what this vintage has to offer. Mind-boggling effort.

MONTROSE 2009 98-100p

Tasted three times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. It was extremely intense, strong, robust, with sweet tannin, plenty of chocolate, great depth, length and silky finish. Extremely rich and complex. Twin brother of 2010. Outstanding wine.

MONTROSE 2008 94p

Tasted three times - last time in April 2013. Consistent notes. This wine displayed very intense and spicy flavors of cedar tree, leather and mocha, strong backbone, powerful structure and long finish. You could feel the character of soil here. This wine was made under new management and by new cellar master who arrived in 2007.

MONTROSE 2007 90p

Tasted in April 2011. Pleasant surprise indeed, even if this wine didn't have ripeness, depth and concentration of 2008. Well balanced, nice tasty fruit, round and with nice length.

MONTROSE 2006 92p

Tasted twice - last time in April 2011. Not consistent notes. Made by completely new technical staff, after change of owner. From the barrel (April 2005) it was strong and distinct with stupendous structure, big depth and with beautiful balance between dark berries and fat tannin. In April 2011, it tasted closed and not willing to reveal anything. Certain dryness was noticeable, but I don't think it was because of unripe fruit, rather because of oak flavors being not fully integrated yet. It'll take time for this wine to come out from its shell.

MONTROSE 2005 97p

Tasted four times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. This wine had incredibly seductive nose of truffles and cocoa powder, strong backbone, powerful attitude, iron strong structure, wonderful balance and mega long finish. A fantastic example of how exceptional this vintage really is! Grace and sophisticated touch for all the money.

MONTROSE 2003 99p

Tasted twice - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. Distinguished truffy nose of leather, cassis and smoked tobacco leaves. Rich and sophisticated on palate, exquisite balance, complexity and staggering richness. No sign at all of heated fruit, fresh and with incredibly long finish. This is fantastic tribute to the vintage as well.

MONTROSE 2000 97p

Tasted four times - last time in December 2016. Consistent notes. Extremely complex on the nose with overwhelming aromas of blueberries, rich, deep, long and wonderfully structured on the palate. A fantastic tribute to the vintage.

MONTROSE 1999 89p

Tasted in May 2012. Very truffy wine with nice fruit intensity, elegant and supple, very charming and tasty. Slightly dry on the finish.

MONTROSE 1995 93p

Tasted in June 2016. Magnum bottle. Graphite and pencil, strong backbone, polished, fine structure and complexity, well-balanced and with persistent finish. Splendid for the vintage.

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MONTROSE 1990 100p

Tasted three times - last time in May 2013. Consistent notes. Animal, concentrated truffles, incredibly thick intensity, then explosion of everything on the palate which is just sensational. This is legend of perfection and a phenomenal wine. The nose changed constantly from animal flavor to truffle flavor and then back again.

Bruno Lemoine (now at Larrivet Haut Brion) was technical director at Montrose at that time and it was him who decided to do extensive green harvest during summer 1990. Jean-Luis Charmolüe, the owner, wasn't happy, constatly reminding Bruno Lemoine of possible mistake by doing green harvest. He stopped complaining however, when wine critics led by wine-guru Robert Parker praised this wine to the skies from bottle with perfect score of 100p!! All three times I've tasted it (two sources), the bottles were perfect.

MONTROSE 1986 92p

Tasted twice - last time in June 2014. Consistent notes. Mature wine with truffles and tobacco leaves. Nice fruit intensity, balance and soft finish. Very enjoyable.

MONTROSE 1970 94p

Tasted twice - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. Significant flavor of graphite, earthy and polished, well-structured with splendid complexity, velvety texture and long finish. Much better than reviews on this vintage from other wine-critics.

MONTROSE 1964 93p

Tasted in September 1988 at the property. Very rich and graceful, lot of sweetness, extraordinary balance, showing some age, delightful stuff.

MONTROSE 1959 97p

Tasted in September 1989 in horisontal tasting of 25 wines from 1959 vintage. This bottle didn't come from cellars of the property. Incerdibly well-composed, aromatic, stunning sweetness of fruit, sophisticated, fantastic richness, power and length. Great, great bottle!

MONTROSE 1955 95p

Tasted in March 1989. Came directly from cellars of Montrose. Fat and compact, imposing depth and breed, awesome length complexity and richness. Fantastic future in sight!

MONTROSE 1953 96p

Tasted twice - last time in September 2016. Consistent notes. Tasted first time in March 1989 and the bottle came directly from cellars of Montrose. Even better than 1955 with more intensity, complexity and with heart-breaking finesse and sweetness. Simply heavenly stuff. Then tasted again 27.5 years later, bottle was bought through internet auction. Distinguished, classy and sophisticated Montrose 1953 with lot of sweetness, great balance and riveting elegance. Has aged gracefully.

MONTROSE 1952 99p

Tasted in December 2007. Here I became speechless. From the glass came a phenomenal aroma of truffles, tobacco, you name it. It was stunningly composed with exemplary, incredibly sophisticated and rarely seen complexity. Immensely rich aftertaste completed this perfect wine. Everything I love about Bordeaux was here! Montrose was particularly strong in 1950s with magnifique 1953, 1955 and 1959, but this 55 years old beauty ranks among the best wines of this vintage!

MONTROSE 1928 94p

Tasted in November 2002. Very dark and dense color. Chocolate, splendidly built together, luscious with stunning balance and long aftertaste. A really great bottle.

 

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HERE ARE MY TOP TEN WINES OF 2016

1. Montrose 1990 100p 2. Latour 2000 100p 3. Lafleur 2000 100p 4. Le Pin 1990 99p 5. Cheval Blanc 1990 99p 6. Lafite 2000 99p 7. Montrose 2010 99p 8. Yquem 1986 98p 9. Tertre Roteboeuf 2000 98p 10. Certan de May 1982 98p