Montrose 1990, a legendary wine

Montrose 1990, a legendary wine

Ask a wine enthusiast who regularly drinks the great Bordeaux wines to name a few legends and there is a good chance that he will come up with the Montrose 1990. And that is not the first thing you expect from this chateau from the Saint Estephe.

Montrose history

Chateau Montrose was founded in 1815. The Charmolue family has been the owner and winemaker since 1896. In 1960 Jan-Louis Charmolue replanted the vineyards which eventually led to the position as a leading Chateau in the Bordeaux. He personally created the legendary 1990.

Montrose was not really known as a wine that was early drinkable. They were massive wines, even the wines from the super years 1959 and 1961 took a lot of time to enter their best drinking period. For that reason Jan-Louis planted more Merlot and the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon decreased. Since Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet, this immediately meant that the wines could be consumed earlier.

Montrose terroir

With its gravel soil, Montrose shares a bit of the same soil as Chateau Latour in Pauillac. Both are located directly at the Gironde. Under this gravel soil is clay, which may explain the rather present tannins in the Montrose wines.

Montrose 1990 vintage report

The year 1990 is known in Bordeaux as a very good vintage. And almost everything worked out at Montrose that year. Very ripe Cabernet was harvested, possibly for the first time, which meant that the Merlot was even slightly overripe. That made a unique combination and resulted in the perfect wine. Almost everything worked, because unfortunately some bottles contain Brettanomyces, aka Brett. It is a type of yeast that occurs everywhere but is less welcome with wine. It often gives the wine a horse smell (sweat), although some winemakers allow Brett because it can also give the wine positive elements such as leather and smoke and add some complexity. With the Montrose 1990 bottles, the amount of Brett varies from almost non-existent to very present. It's a personal thing, but in the Montrose 1990, brett's presence doesn't bother me. In a Montrose 1990 without brett I even miss something.

The 1990 was the first Montrose to receive Parker's maximum score of 100 points. The critics everywhere were very positive. It took almost 20 years (2009) for Montrose to receive the maximum score for the second time. We have tasted almost all Montrose vintages from 1959 and believe that the 1990 is still the most beautiful and unique Montrose to date. Possibly because of the perfect imperfection. The 1989, strange as that may sound, has also developed into a legendary wine over the past 15 years. Here too, opinions differ, but we slightly prefer the 1990.

Montrose 1990 tasting note

Dark red with a brown tinge. The bouquet really pops towards you. Leather, tar and above all terroir, this is a fingerprint of Saint Estephe: pebbles, gravel, minerals. If you could smell the wine blind you could also think of a Rhone, a hermitage. Lots of spices, raisins, truffle. And of course fruit, black fruit. And then you take the first sip and fall silent. So this is perfection. This is so impressively soft, so complex. But also extremely concentrated, it looks like extract. Cassis and black currants, liquorice. Perfect balance, the finish lasts minutes, without any loss of quality. How many bottles do we have left? Best of Wines score: 10.

Marcel Deiss, au Service des Terroirs
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Marcel Deiss, au Service des Terroirs

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