When Montrose is good, it really is very good indeed and the 2009 Montrose is an absolute stunner. Montrose had the dubious honour of being our first tasting on Monday morning, but our team left lifted and enthused to taste more. The terroir here always benefits from the hotter, drier vintages and in 2009 Jean Delmas has crafted a wine of exquisite beauty, charm and power. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and just 1% Petit Verdot. Notes of cassis, violets, spices, graphite, truffles, crushed rocks, liquorice and brambles are demurely released from the glass. This is a dense offering, packed with sensual blackberries and dark brooding fruit; however, there is an austerity and strictness, which makes this wine complete. Despite the enormous concentration, there is sleekness to the fruit and a satin texture that makes this wine handsome and true. Splendid!
Chateau Montrose is one of the youngest estates in the 1855 classification. In fact at the end of the 18th century the land was covered in heather. The land was sold by the Segur family to the Dumoulin family in 1778. By 1815 Etienne Theodore Jnr had removed the heather and had started planting vines. By 1920, Dumoulin had built the modest Chateau that stands there today.
The present owners are the Bouygues brothers. After purchasing the estate in 2006, they enlisted the help of Jean-Bernard Delmas, formally of Haut Brion and more recently, Herve Berland of Mouton Rothschild. This is an estate with great terroir and with lofty ambitions. There have been many exceptional wines over the years, but the 2010, 2009, 2003, 1990, 1989, 1959, 1947, 1945 and 1929 are perhaps the most decorated. The estate always performs well in hotter vintages and has a reputation for producing wines that will age for many decades.
A part of St-Estèphe is separated from Pauillac's Lafite only by a stream.Though St-Estèphe contains some gravel, it is largely renowned for the high clay content of its soils compared with other vineyards on the left bank. These wetter cooler soils favour the Merlot, hence the relatively large proportion of plantings compared neighbouring communes, though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates. The cool soils means the grapes are later ripeing and tend to have high acidities, archetypal St Estèphe is a strong-willed, tannic structured wine to be laid down. The stars of St-Estèphe are Montrose, Cos d’Estournel and Calon-Segur, whilst Haut Marbuzet and Lafon Rochet have been producing excellent value wines over the last few years.