A legend because…
Montrose was long renowned for its impressive but austere and tannic wines that needed years of cellaring. Then in 1989 and 1990 it produced a pair of wines that established it as the finest property in St-Estèphe, with Cos d’Estournel its closest rival.
The excellent weather condition in 2009 and the unique soil of Montrose helped to develop another extraordinary vintage.
Jean-Louis Charmolüe, whose ancestors had bought the estate in 1896, was the owner in 1990, and although he always maintained the very traditional style of Montrose, he was aware that wines of such severity were becoming less acceptable to a new generation of Bordeaux drinkers. He planted more Merlot, reducing the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon.
An extensive renovation programme with very strict environmental objectives has been carried out since Martin and Olivier Bouygues acquired it in 2006, reflecting their determination to make Château Montrose a model of skilled winemaking and sustainable development.
Episodes of regular rain and warm temperature characterise the first six months of the year 2009. Nevertheless, the key-phases of the vine’s growing cycle (blossoming and setting of the vine) developed in excellent conditions. This year again, the unique soil of Montrose helped to fight against the parasitic disease, gratefully to the draining gravelly soil along with the oceanic air that sweeps and dries away the vineyard.
The summer settled a hot and dry weather until the early fall, allowing the berry to gain volume and change colour. That authorised the winery to be patient with confidence and serenity for the grape to reach optimal maturity.
With its deep gravel soils, Montrose differs little in its terroir from Château Latour, its riverside counterpart in Pauillac. The vineyards, about 68ha in 1990, are in a single block about 800m from the Gironde, and their average age was about 40 years. But the gravel is no more than 2m deep – ample for excellent drainage, but no match for the profundity of Latour’s soils. Beneath the gravel is a layer of limestone and clay. Like other top châteaux in St-Estèphe, Montrose also has parcels with a high clay content, which may explain the hefty tannins of the wine, and also why more Merlot, always at home on clay, was planted in the 1980s.
New York-based award-winning wine journalist and author Elin McCoy gave Château Montrose 2009 a high score of 96 points, and said: ‘Dense, suave and the definition of opulent, this has the richness of ripe fruit and an upfront, fruity lusciousness that I don’t usually associate with Montrose. It’s still very pure and concentrated, with a nose of blackberries and rose petals.’