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Chateau Montrose

montrose.jpgEstablished in 1815 and superbly sited on the gentle slopes leading down to the Gironde, with a magnificent view of the Estuary (and also the nuclear power-generation plant on the far shores!), the modest Château that is Montrose is one of the absolute benchmark Bordeaux properties - the sort of wine you would produce to explain to a novice what Bordeaux wines are all about - as well as the epitome of the vin de gardestyle of wine.  Renowned for producing dense, powerful wines of massive proportion, requiring many decades of cellaring to achieve maturity, Montrose is unquestionably one of the greats of the Médoc, but also a wine which is, I suspect, once again in the midst of a stylistic evolution, judging by recent offerings.  In April 2006 the Château was sold (to French brothers Martin and Olivier Bouygues) who immediately coaxed the recently-retired Jean Delmas (who was winemaker at Haut-Brion from the 1961 to 2005 vintages) to take the helm.  My initial (caveat - all barrel sample) tastings at Montrose since the 2006 vintage would indicate that they are seeking a slightly lighter, more herbal, less-structured and more approachable style of wine than has historically (save a brief flirtation with lighter-style Montroses from the late 1970s until 1986) been de rigour at this property.

One further observation I feel compelled to mention.  Of my hundreds of visits to properties in Bordeaux (let alone in wine regions all around the world) I have never seen more impeccably maintained, pristine cellars as those at Montrose.  Not a speck of dust has been present, every polishable surface has been gleaming, and nothing has ever been out of place.  I believe this says a great deal as to why Montrose is considered one of Bordeaux’s best properties, and why their wines are, irrespective of vintage, superb.montrose-vines-cropped.jpg

Montrose has nearly 170 acres, or about 70 hectares of vineyards, planted to 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.  As I’ve already stated, Montrose is one of the best-sited properties in the Médoc, on free-draining gravels (one to four meters) over clay subsoils near the Gironde.  

As with most top properties in Bordeaux, fermentations take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats (since 2000) for around three weeks.  The wine is then aged in at least 50% new oak (occasionally up to 75%) for around 18 months.  It is then egg-white fined, and bottled unfiltered.  La Dame de Montrose is aged for 12 months in oak.

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