Red, Ready, but will keep

1996 Ch. Montrose, St Estèphe

1996 Ch. Montrose, St Estèphe

Red | Ready, but will keep | Chateau Montrose | Code: 617 | 1996 | France > Bordeaux > St Estephe | Cab.Sauvignon Blend | Medium-Full Bodied, Dry | 12.5 % alcohol

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Scores and Reviews

JANCIS

17/20

JANCIS - Mid quite youthful-looking ruby. Very developed bouquet that is super correct and pleasing to a classical claret lover. Lovely integrated fruit freshness, vitality. The tannins are dissipated but this is a really nice, fresh wine for now. Not super succulent but very successful. Sucky stony finish.
Jancis Robinson - Bordeaux '96s Today - jancisrobinson.com - 21-Sept-2011

WA - This was a very strong year for the Medoc, as opposed to Graves and the Right Bank. The vintage has a very irregular reputation, but not so much for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape in the Medoc. Harvest occurred September 23 and finished October 6, a relatively short period, even at a large estate such as Montrose. The wine has sweeter tannins than the 1995, but doesn’t have quite the ripeness noticeable in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010. This wine is the classic, or more traditional style of Montrose, with dusty loamy soil notes intermixed with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Licorice, underbrush and floral notes were all present in this wine, which has good acidity and is not far from entering its plateau of full maturity. This was a year where Montrose used a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend – 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - Wine Advocate - Issue#214 - Aug 2014

The Producer

Chateau Montrose

Chateau Montrose

Château Montrose is one of the leading wine properties of St.Estéphe, and produces some of the longest-lived wines in the Médoc. Montrose had been owned by Jean-Louis Charmolue from 1962 until 2006, when it was sold  to Martin and Olivier Bouygues, owner of the eponymously named construction firm Bouygues, is located in the east of the appellation, just north of the hamlet of Marbuzet, on a gravel knoll only 800 metres from the Gironde estuary. The proximity of the estuary ensures a microclimate that protects against frost, and the vines, which lie on deep clay-gravel soils, benefit from a south-easterly aspect.

Montrose's wine is typically a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot  and 10% Cabernet Franc and is matured in oak barriques (30% new) for 18 months.

Montrose wines are traditionally deeply coloured, austere and powerful when young, yet possess superb ageing potential, and when mature are quintessential St.Estèphe clarets. Montrose is classified as a 2ème Cru Classé.

The Grape

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

The Region

St Estephe

St Estephe

St Estèphe is the northernmost of the most important communes of the Médoc and borders Pauillac on its southernmost border, with only a gully and stream separates it from Ch. Lafite. To the north lies the Bas-Médoc.

St Estèphe is defined by the depth of its gravel, which is ubiquitous but of varying depths and occasionally very shallow, when clay predominates. This keeps the soil cooler and wetter than its counterparts so that the wines can appear fresh in lighter vintages, but superbly successful in hot, dry years. 

The best châteaux in the south of the commune have the deepest soil and the thickest gravel. Cos d'Estournel has an exceptional terroir with its vineyards being located on a south-facing ridge of gravel with excellent drainage. 

St Estèphe is the least gravelly of main Médoc communes and in the north of the commune the vineyards are heavier and more clay-based leading to a rustic style of wine being produced.

The wines can appear austere in youth with a discernable ferric note at some châteaux, but the best typically display good depth of colour, pronounced acidity an tannins in youth and are exceptionally long-lived. At their best, they are the equal of almost any Bordeaux. The well-regarded St Estèphe co-operative controls the production of about half the appellation.

Recommended Châteaux
Cos (Ch. Cos d'Estournel), Ch. Montrose, Ch. Calon-Ségur, Ch. Lafon-Rochet, Ch. Les Ormes de Pez, Ch. Beau-Site, Ch. Cos Labory, Ch. Phélan-Ségur

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