Spectacular view from Montrose vineyard towards Gironde river
One of my favourite Bordeaux wines for a long time. While being particularly strong in the 1950s and 1960s, Montrose got the 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 the long reign of Charmolüe family, Montrose changed hands in 2006, when the Bouygues family bought this property. The new owners hired famous Jean-Bernard Delmas, 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 from doing 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 of vines all over the area. There is 95 ha of vines, all in one block, growing on 3-4 meters deep layer of heavy gravel mixed with ferrous sand and a subsoil of clay and marl. Cépage is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, and vines are more than 30 years old on average.
Since Montrose's acquisition in 2006, new owners have done extensive works to modernize, improve facilities, and streamline logistics. A new cellar, for instance, looks monumental. Because of the 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 a doubt, a Super Second wine. In my opinion, the style of Montrose changed a bit after the 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.
A new cellar at Montrose as seen in April 2014 - looks simply fantastic.
MONTROSE 2018 98+p
Tasted twice - last time in December 2020. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. 14.8% alcohol but you really can't feel it due to fruit and tannin fully integrating it. Classic Montrose and very classic for the district. Strong and powerful, "an iron fist in the velvet glove"! Bulldozering all the way, but moving elegantly. Creamy and with awesome complexity and length. Knowing that Montrose is a slowly maturing wine, it can easily improve further with age.
MONTROSE 2017 (barrel sample) 98p
Tasted in April 2018. This property once again produced a stellar wine. Great aromatic nose of black fruit, great acidity and complexity, strong structure and impressive length. A fresh and classic wine with both power and subtlety.
MONTROSE 2016 (barrel sample) 98p
Tasted in April 2017. This wine had a lot of silky fruit, and tannin gently wrapped up by oak, great aromatic black fruit and strong backbone. Stupendous complexity and length on the palate. Immensely impressive.
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 the velvet glove" or "wolf in sheep's clothes", boom, the 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, 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 an excellent nose of black cherries/blueberries, aromatic and seductive, velvety palate and a perfect length. On the light side. Gained in weight and concentration during the second year in barrel, which was confirmed while tasted in March 2015. Truffy and elegant wine. Even better in November 2015 with a 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 a 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 the 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 depth and concentration.
MONTROSE 2010 100p
Tasted five times - last time in June 2016. Consistent notes. This was a monster wine with its thick aroma of black fruit, enormous concentration, strong backbone, perfectly ripe fat fruit and fat tannin, stunning complexity and structure, and 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 a very intense and spicy scent of a 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. A 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 the change of ownership. The barrel (April 2005) was strong and distinct with stupendous structure, big depth, and a 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 flavours 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 an 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 the heated fruit, fresh and with an incredibly long finish. This is a 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 persistent finish. Splendid for the vintage.
MONTROSE 1990 100p
Tasted four times - last time in December 2016. Consistent notes from perfect bottles. Animal, concentrated truffles, incredibly thick intensity, then explosion of everything on the palate are just sensational. This is a legend of perfection and phenomenal wine. Paradise in heaven!
Some history of making this vintage at Montrose. 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, constantly reminding Bruno Lemoine of a possible mistake by doing the green harvest. However, he stopped complaining when wine critics led by wine-guru Robert Parker praised this wine to the sky from the bottle with a perfect score of 100p!!
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 three times - last time in February 2020. Consistent notes. A significant graphite flavour is earthy and polished, well-structured with splendid complexity, velvety texture, and long finish. Much better all three times I tasted it, than reviews on this wine 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 a horizontal tasting of 25 wines from 1959 vintage. This bottle didn't come from cellars of the property. Incredibly well-composed, aromatic, the 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, the bottle was bought through an internet auction. A distinguished, classy and sophisticated wine here with a 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 the 1950s with magnificent 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 colour. Chocolate, splendidly built together, luscious with stunning balance and long aftertaste. A really great bottle.