Sunday 15 November 2015

100 Years Of Château Montrose - 1911-2011 - The Notes


It was time.
Two weeks ago we had an incredible tasting of one of my favourite estates in Bordeaux - Château Montrose. I have been lucky enough to have tasted a lot of vintages through the years, but never in this exuberant way.

I have been buying for this tasting for 16 years, the oldest purchase was the 1996 a primeur. The rest of the vintages have been accumulated over the years, the latest purchase was the 1986 who got delivered a month ago.

We were seated in a private room at Djuret, one of my favourite restaurants in Stockholm, which if you don´t bring 20 vintages of Montrose..., has an amazing wine list. The food, service and handling of the bottles was top notch!

Château Montrose is the most modern of all classified growths but at the same time in many aspects, especially with the older vintages, one of the most traditional. It was created in 1815 out of a piece of woodlands, belonging to the Calon estate. Already in 1855 when the still official classification was made, Montrose placed itself as a second growth.
The Charmolüe family bought the estate in 1896 and kept it in the family up until 2006.

The vineyard is 90 ha big and is planted with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Average age of the vines are 40 years.
Montrose is known for in the past producing wines that took ages to mature. With the introduction of a second wine, La Dame de Montrose, in 1984 the style has changed somewhat. It is still a robust and big wine but it is more early accessible.

"This is a classic claret drinker´s wine, not perhaps for beginners, but with its strong character and full-blooded qualities, a wine to appeal to English and, even more perhaps, to Scottish tastes"
(David Peppercorn: Bordeaux (1991))

Lets go to the wines:

Flight 1
1970 Château Montrose
We started with three vintage sfrom the 70´s to get that Montrose feeling going. The 1970 has a mature, soft, old school nose with notes of stables, ripe black currants, leather and cigarette ashes. A touch meaty. Holds well in the glass.
The taste is tight and mature with notes of black currants, iron, leather and spices. A long finish with a fine dryness to it. Fully mature but holding well.
89p   (tasted 2015/10)

1971 Château Montrose
The 71 started out a bit slow but got better and better all evening. The nose is deep, warm and round with more cherry fruit than currants. Additional notes of tobacco, sugared coffee and banana peel are to be found. Very attractive.
The taste is perfectly mature with notes of dried cherries, cofffee, stables, graphite and autumn leaves. A fine warmth and dryness. Very, very good.
91p   (tasted 2015/10)

1975 Château Montrose
The nose is mature and a bit foursquare with notes of dried red berries, old wood, undergrowth and wet cigarette butts. Doesn´t sound that exciting but it works in a strange kind of way.
The taste is typical of the vintage, still rather dry harsh tannins and a medium bodied fruit that fights in vane against the tannins. Lingonberries, dry leather and some old stables. Works well with the food though. I have had better bottles of 75 Montrose.
77p   (tasted 2015/10)

Flight 2
1911 Château Montrose
Ok, a 104 year old wine. That doesn´t happen every day. Its no secret that I like old wine, but it still has to be good, for my taste anyway (compare with the 1920 below). This is not only good, it is great.
The nose is deep, finely tuned and expressive with notes of dried raspberries, band aid, old choolate, menthol, cigarette ashes and a hint of tar. Very much alive and kicking. Holds well in the glass.
The taste is tight, dry and aristocratic with notes of red currants, earth, cigarette ashes, stables and gravel. There is even a hint of dried up sweetness in the medium long finish. This is really good. Would love to have more bottles of this.
92p   (tasted 2015/10)

1920 Château Montrose
Except for the corked 2000, this was the only really bad bottle. The nose is old and unsound with notes of white mold cheese, old olives and a dish rag. Not good.
The taste is a tad better than the nose but it is hollow, old and dry. Too bad, Clive Coates had it as a revelation in his Bordeaux book. Ah well, old bottles.
55p   (tasted 2015/10)

1928 Château Montrose
A glorious, refined, racy nose with notes of dried black currants, dried flowers, earth, old leather, sea buckthorn, pencil shavings and a touch of coffee powder. So fine and elegant. Doesn´t budge at all in the glass all night long. Soooo fine.
The taste is remarkable fresh and alert with notes of red and black currants, lingonberries, tobacco, smoke and moist earth. The finish is long with lots of breed and character, A long, persistent finish. A treat to drink and enjoy.
97p   (tasted 2015/10)

1937 Château Montrose
A big, overblown nose with notes of muscovado sugar, ink, asphalt, sweet liquorice and old wood. It feels like something has been added to this. Very sweet, cooked fruit.
The taste is big and fiery with a foursquare structure and notes of tar, black currant jam, sugared coffee and moist undergrowth. Tasteable, but not very enjoyable.
67p   (tasted 2015/10)

Flight 3
1945 Château Montrose
I didn´t have much hope for this one. When I bought it several years ago it had a mid shoulder level, but a month ago, when I was in the cellar, I noticed a small pool of wine under this bottle. It had begun to leak. I stood it up and put clingfilm around the cork and crossed all fingers imaginable.
The nose is deep, warm and concentrated with lots of sweet black fruit and some chocolate and earthy notes. It oxidizes a bit when its sits in the glass. Too bad, although when you pour some more in the glass it becomes much fresher.
The taste is mature, tight and dry with notes of dried black currants, Christmas spices, dusty earth and dry tobacco. Lots of muscular tannins. Long, dry and intense. I would venture that a healthy bottle of this would have rocked my world. This one didn´t, although it was a good drink.
85p   (tasted 2015/10)

1947 Château Montrose
This refined creature starts out in a shy manner but evolves all night into a thing of beauty. The nose is cool, pure and laid back with notes of rowanberries, dried red and black currants, rose petals, Cohiba smoke and a touch of mint. Ethreal. Very delicate and fine.
The taste is cool, structuted and mature with notes of ripe red currants, vegetable stock, ironclad earth, some pencil shavings and old leather. Long and very elegant. Very, very fine. An utter joy to drink. Holds very well in the glass.
96p   (tasted 2015/10)

1949 Château Montrose
The nose of the 49 explodes from the glass with gorgeous aromas of red and black currants, warm gravel, chocolate biscuits, tobacco and some mint. Very expressive and lively. Deep. This has matured into a great bottle of Bordeaux. A very fine warmth to the fruit.
The taste is mature, tight yet velvety with fine notes of red and black currants, dusty earth, pipe tobacco, old chocolate and sugared coffee. A very long, sturdy finish with a fine warmth and structure. Very, very fine. Fully mature but bottles like this could be cellared for another 8+ years. Stunning wine.
96p   (tasted 2015/10)

Flight 4
1952 Château Montrose
A cool, elegant, earthy nose with notes of red currants, leather, band aid, some old chocolate and after some time in the glass, a hint of beet root juice. Very good. A fine structure.
The taste is very balanced and fine with a fine red and black currant fruit and additional notes of cigarr ashes, dry earth, bakelite and stables. This still has some firm tannins in the long finish. Mature but good bottles should be on this level or better.
91p   (tasted 2015/10)

1959 Château Montrose
A 1959 Montrose should be great, right? Well, this is a good bottle, but it doesn´t reach the heights of other fine 59´s. The nose is big, warm and burly with notes of dried black currants, tar, meat stock and cigarr smoke. Big and bold.
The taste is mature, tight and dry with notes of dried meat, dried up black currant jam, earth and cigarr ashes. A medium long, dry finish. Other bottles should be much better.
86p   (tasted 2015/10)

1961 Château Montrose
Some around the table had this as their favourite. And it is not hard too see why, for this is a truly great wine. The nose is to kill and die for with its gorgeous notes of autumn leaves, cool red and black currants, cranberries, pipe tobacco, graphite and a hint of menthol. Absurdly good, I wrote... This has matured in a great fashion. Very, very deep. Just beautiful.
The taste is a poster child for that proverbial "iron fist in a velvet glove". The black currant fruit is of the finest, ripest kind and the additional notes of old expensive leather, graphite, dusty earth and autumn leaves is of the best kind. A hint of fresh stables in a distance. The finish is long and intense. Simply put, a fantastic wine.
99p   (tasted 2015/10)

Flight 5
1986 Château Montrose
A big, burly, meaty nose with notes of damp earth, sunwarm black currants, chewing tobacco and flower water. Structured and broad shouldered but not very charming. Good though.
The taste is dense and tight with some hints of maturity and notes of black currant suryp, autumn leaves, sweet tobacco and gravel. Hearthy. I´m not sure time will polish of the taut structure of this one.
88p   (tasted 2015/10)

1989 Château Montrose
A very intense, powerful nose with notes of ripe black currants, fresh stables, iron, violets and Cohiba smoke. A touch meaty in character. Very, very fine. A lovely depth. Lots of graphite after a while. This is a really fine wine. Has a long way to go.
The taste is broad shouldered yet elegant with fantastic notes of ripe black currants, expensive leather, undergrowth, stables and violets. Sturdy, even old fashioned, but oooh so fine. Evolves for hours in the glass. This has a great future ahead of its self.
96p   (tasted 2015/10)

1990 Château Montrose
I have been lucky enough to taste this perfect specimen on four occasions before this evening and every time it has been a mind blowing wine. As on this evening.
The nose is all that the 89 displays but it has an added complexity and interesting notes of pine wood, dusty asphalt and forest floor. Breathtakingly beautiful. Bottomless deep.
The taste is like a agile ballerina with Arnold muscles, displaying all that is great with Bordeaux, perfect ripe fruit, polished tannins and a caressing long lasting finish that ends perfectly dry. I could drink this all day every day. And it will go on this way for 20+ years. True magic.
100p   (tasted 2015/10)

1996 Château Montrose
The 90 is a tough act to follow but the 96 comes through with flying colours. The nose is deep, dense and intense with fantastic notes of ripe black currants, iron, moist undergrowth, blood sausage, pipe tobacco and graphite. Very, very good. Still very primary on the nose. Stunning.
The taste is big and broad shouldered with notes of black currants, chocolate biscuits, iron, meat stock and pipe tobacco. The finish goes on for minutes and there is some hefty tannins here. This has a great potential, just give it 8+ years. Really fine.
96p   (tasted 2015/10)

Flight 6
2000 Château Montrose
#¤%&"#¤/&%¤ Corked!

2003 Château Montrose
A dark, dense yet opulent nose with boatloads of ripe black currants and additional notes of ink, Cohiba cigarr, black earth, wood smoke and freshly grounded coffee. Very extrovert and ripe. Needs lots of time. Has the stuffing for future greatness.
The taste is big, ripe but also refined in its exuberant character. Lots of creamy black currants, liquorice, dark chocolate, coffee latte, meat stock, flower water and new leather. The finish goes of for minutes with a great warmth and some finely polished tannins that show themselves at the end. Will achieve real greatness in 15-20 years time. Impressive.
95p   (tasted 2015/10)

2011 Château Montrose
What a youngster! And a great one at that. The nose is filled to the brim with upfront, juicy black currants fruit with additional notes of violets, graphite, new leather, fresh flowers and scorched earth. Very ripe fruit. Intense and yummy but very, very young.
The taste is big, juciy and extracted with sugared black currants and lots of silky tannins in the long, long finish. Notes of warm earth, leather, graphite and bakelite completes the picture. This will surely turn out great in 10+ years time. A very nice ending to this fantastic evening.
93p   (tasted 2015/10)


  1. Underbart att se att de äldre årgångarna levererade!

    1. Det gjorde dom! Och bättre flaskor av 1920 och 1949 borde vara fantastiska, får se om jag kan hitta några...:-)

  2. Blev du så exalterad efter 90an att du glömde 96an :-)? Bästa provning jag någonsin jag varit på och frågan är om jag någonsin får vara med på något liknande. Evigt tacksam.