Tasted at the vertical in London, I have instead used the tasting note from a bottle opened at the property when I visited just a couple of weeks later. The 1996 Montrose is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot picked between 23 September and 6 October. It was served alongside the 1986 Montrose, however, this is a far better wine and reconfirms Robert Parker's remarks at his own vertical at the property in 2014. For me, it is that loamy character that defines the nosefreshly tilled, damp soil that tinctures the black fruit that takes you straight to this particular chteau. This is classic through and through and very well defined. The palate is wonderful with very fine delineation, pitch-perfect acidity, touches of graphite infusing the red and black fruit that dovetails into a very pretty, floral finish. This is clearly one of the great wines of the 1996 vintage and I would be stocking up as much as I could, because it will give 30-40 years of pleasure. Tasted July 2016.
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (Mar 2017)
Served blind. Mid ruby with lots of evolution at the rim. Very mature and nicely sweet and evolved, with the acidity and light to medium body of 1985. But no, it’s a 1996! Hervé Berland admits it looks older than it is. One of Martin Bouyges’ favourite vintages.
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com (Jul 2015)
About this WINE
Château Montrose is part of our Spotlight on sustainability series. You can view the full range here.
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 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.
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.
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.