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Alongside Cos, this is a king amongst St Estèphe estates. At 76% cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 has the highest proportion of this variety in the blend since 2006. The estate is building a new winery, and now has 90 tanks at its disposal to vinify individual plots. The dexterity in the cellar rewards in the glass; this is dense, dark and structured, with great purity and precision. There is a fine balance between silky fruit and a fresh, salty, toasty length with a touch of vanilla spice. The chalky tannins give it a long, elegant finish. This was the high point of the appellation.
The 2017 Montrose represents 37% of the total production this year and it was cropped at around 45hl/ha. It has a little more volume and intensity compared to the Cos d’Estournel that was tasted immediately prior to my visit. Blackberry, raspberry, cedar and pressed flowers bloom in the glass, though there is a noticeable change with aeration after 20 minutes – hints of juniper and bay leaf, rendering a more nuanced and complex array of aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin and it feels a little chalky in the mouth, yet also tensile and certainly extremely focused. There is already a palpable sense of energy in situ, well structured and vivid, though not as complex or as nuanced as the 2016 Montrose on the finish since the growing season forbade that. I appreciate the pastille-like purity on the aftertaste and the potent tang of cracked black pepper and graphite that hang around for 45 seconds after the wine has departed. It is a fine, very classic Montrose and I suspect more approachable than those of yesteryear. Tasted twice at the château. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 Montrose is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is a little closed at first, but with coaxing, it opens to reveal remarkable earth and exotic spice notes of crushed rocks, black truffles, star anise, cassia and fenugreek over a core of crème de cassis, blackberry preserves, violets and blueberry pie with touches of cigar box, charcuterie and black soil. Medium-bodied with a rock-solid frame and an exquisitely ripe, very fine-grained texture, it has wonderful freshness with electric energy and a very long, minerally finish. Possessing great poise and intensity, this is one of the greatest Montrose's I have tasted!
Deep crimson. Sober but intense black fruit. On the palate, elegant and attractive dusty character, incredibly fine tannins, so supple, refined, juicy and long. Not opulent but not at all dry. Should have a long drinking window. (JH) Drink 2025-2045
This is pure and tight with gorgeous cabernet sauvignon character of blackcurrants, blueberries and crushed stones. Full-bodied, yet compacted and polished. It shows a long and beautiful tannin texture at the end. Just rolls off the palate.
The 2017 Montrose is wonderfully polished and nuanced. Silky tannins and mid-weight structure confer finesse to a Montrose that possesses superb harmony from start to finish. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. In 2017, the Grand Vin (35% of the production) is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Because of the late season rains, Montrose has more Cabernet Sauvignon than is typically the case. The winemaking team opted for a large number of smaller-lot vinifications (82 instead of 50-ish, to be exact), in order to optimize picks according to ripeness. Although alcohol alone can never tell the whole story of a wine, at 13.5% alcohol, Montrose has a very attractive freshness to it. The Grand Vin represents about 37% of the chateau's production. The 2017 is all class.
This has more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend this year, the highest level since 2006, because the Merlot didn't quite make it through the September rains unscathed. The wine is correspondingly powerful with a robust accompanying acidity that promises a long life. The fruit character is savoury, succulent and extremely persistent, with fleshy blackberry alongside touches of redcurrant and a pulsating freshness that keeps on coming. Harvested 12-29 September with twelve days spent actually picking, compared to sixteen days over the last few years, with more hands on deck. They have never been affected by frost, as far as they can remember, and 2017 was no exception. The wind is always such a benefit here. A normal yield of 45hl/ha, 37% of which was for the grand vin. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
Very commanding and linear on the nose, this is a focussed and direct wine with masses of intent and it takes no prisoners on the nose and palate. There is a chiselled feel to Montrose with enormous length and determination and no trace of fat or glycerol to be found on its lean, taut frame. It is interesting to see here what happens when there is no disease pressure, no particular hydric stress and also a dry and temperate summer. The organic viticulture at this Château allows the soils to express themselves fully through the vines and so this is perhaps one of the most ‘naked’ and unadorned Montrose vintages in a long time. It will mature slowly and always retain a degree of drama and minerality, reflecting its elevated position in Saint-Estèphe.
For years Montrose has been in the shadow of its more decadent, flashy neighbour, Cos d'Estournel.Quietly confident, it is a brilliant performer in notably dry, sunny vintages due to its dense clay soil that allows the vines to remain hydrated. In 2003, this was particularly true as many deemed it wine of the vintage. They have a new director, Jean-Bernard Delmas, a legend amongst the Bordelais having run Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion for 40 years, so quality is only likley to get better and better.
St Estèphe is the most northern of Médoc communal crus. Its unique terroir is made up of layers of gravel which are supported by a dense clay base. This subsoil retains water in dry seasons and works particularly well with Merlot, a largely planted variety which is used to flesh out Cabernet Sauvignon. This clay base also creates powerful, textured tannins which enable St Estèphe to stand out from the pack. Like St Julien, it is one of the four most important communal appellations of the Médoc which does not contain any first growths, despite its southern border being a stone'sthrow from Château Lafite. Nonetheless, it is home to some excellent châteaux making fine wines such as Cos d'Estournel, Montrose, Calon Ségur and Lafon Rochet.