The famous Second Growth Montrose is an estate at the top of its game. In great years it produces exceptional wines, 2010 being one of those great years.
Montrose set precedent in 1990 and 2009 producing two outstanding 100 pointer wines. In 2010 Montrose scored 99 points with Robert Parker stating that he was “leaning toward giving it a three-digit score, which it may ultimately merit”.
The 1990 currently trades at £5,600 a case and 2009 at £2,550 a case while Montrose 2010 only trades at £1,650 a case; this price reflects 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2003 vintages which scored 94-97 Parker Points. Even if the additional point is not awarded Montrose still looks undervalued at £1,650. This 99 point possible perfect score Montrose 2010 has headroom for capital appreciation and not to mention will offer an extraordinary drinking experience in ten years time.
The 2010 Montrose is a fabulous wine, and I was leaning toward giving it a three-digit score, which it may ultimately merit after it resolves some of its very sweet tannin. It is not as soft or flamboyant as the 2009, but it is a great classic, coming in at 13.9% natural alcohol. Representing 64% of the total production, the final blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot (which is one percent different than the barrel sample blends that were presented). Inky bluish/purple in color, with classic blueberry, black currant, crushed rock and floral notes, hints of graphite, and lots of wild mountain berry fruit, this wine is extravagantly rich, has very sweet but noticeable tannin, laser-like precision, a massive, full-bodied mouthfeel and a finish of close to 50+ seconds. This remarkable wine will probably tighten up somewhat in the bottle, and need most of a decade to shed some tannin and its rather grapy, primary personality. The finish blew me away, and the overall power, richness and balance of this wine are virtually perfect. Look for it to drink well for half a century or more. Robert Parker
Chateau Montrose is a superbly located estate on the banks of the Gironde in the St Estephe appellation of the Medoc. Until 1815 it was open countryside covered with wild heather. In 1815 Etienne Theore Dumoulin planted his first vines in the area known as La Lande de l’Escargeon, south of Calon Segur. The quality of the wine encouraged Etienne Theore to expand his vineyard holding, to build a chateau and sell all his land except that of La Lande de l’Escargeon to Firmin de Lestapis. By the 1855 classification the estate stood at 50 hectares and the wines were selling very successfully. At this time the wine was sold under the Montrose-Segur label and alongside the other great St Estephe estate, Cos d’Estournel, was awarded Deuxieme Cru Classe status.
Clives Coates in his 1995 book ‘Grand Vins’ puts forward the theory the name Montrose originally came from the word for the local pink heather ‘mont-rose’. When Etienne Theore died in 1861, his two adopted children inherited but then sold the estate in 1866 to Mathieu Dolfus who carried on the investment in both buildings and the more unusually for the time, his workers. He built a new chai, dug a fresh water well and built a railway track to the estate. He built workers accommodation, introduced healthcare and a profit sharing scheme for his workers. Like many Bordeaux estates Montrose fell on difficult times due to economic depression and new diseases that attacked the vines.
In 1896 the estate was sold to Louis Victor Charmole, who began an extensive replanting programme. Odium and phylloxera attack had devastated the vines and the vineyards had to be replanted. Louis Victor died in 1925, his son and heir Albe died in 1944, so after the Second World War it was Albe’s widow Yvonne, who was left to manage the estate. In 1983 when Montrose launched a second wine, it was called La Dame de Montrose to honour Yvonne’s contribution. Her son Jean Louis took over the estate in 1960 and he built a new chai in 1975, he invested in new barrels and steady the reputation grew and the price of Montrose increased. In 2006 a new chapter began, Jean Louis sold Montrose to Martin and her husband Oliver Bougues. The couple continue to invest in the infrastructure as well as bringing the formidable skills of Jean Bernard Delmas to the estate as Montrose’s Managing Director. Chateau Montrose has never made better wines; and the 2009 vintage was awarded 100 out of 100 by Robert Parker.
Famed for needing decades to mature, the classic austerity of Montrose has been tamed. It remains a deep crimson wine with richness and strong firm tannins but today the tannins are riper, more complex and a freshness of the fruit harmonies to create a more approachable wine. Its unique micro climate due to its proximity to the Gironde has meant that Montrose escaped the frost that devastated the vineyards of Bordeaux in 1956 and 1991. Its capacity to make good wines in less consistent vintages means gems can be found in the wines of Montrose in vintages critics deem as poor.