Château Montrose is superbly located estate on the banks of the Gironde in the St Estèphe appellation of the Médoc. Until 1815 it was open countryside covered with wild heather. In 1815 Etienne Théore Dumoulin planted his first vines in the area known as La Lande de l’Escargeon, south of Calon Ségur. The quality of the wine encouraged Etienne Théore to expand his vineyard holding, to build a château 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 Estèphe estate, Cos d’Estournel, was awarded Deuxième Cru Classé 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 Théore 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 Charmolüe, 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. Château Montrose has never made better wines; and the 2009 vintage was awarded 100 out of 100 by Robert Parker.
Montrose, a Super Second, is an estate at the top of its game. 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 consistant vintages means gems can be found in the wines of Montrose in vintages critics deem as poor.