Twenty-minutes isn’t a long time, but it’s a lifetime if, on the eve of harvest, your vineyard is sat beneath a storm producing hail the size of golf balls. As extreme vineyard events go the St Estèphe hail storm that struck on September 1st 2011 was a dramatic as they come. Not every producer was mind you. It was highly localised, passing some vineyards, clipping others but decimating quite a few. Basil Tesseron, owner of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, who made good wine in the end, described it as the viticultural equivalent of falling off the Empire State Building – a microscopically short event ending in oblivion. The immediate fear, apart from the reduction in yield and damage to those vines physically stripped of their leaves, branches and fruit, would have then been the secondary threat of rot on the remaining bunches. This fear would have been made more complex by the fact that the vineyards were approaching maturity but not quite ready to pick. Do you wait and get proper phenolic ripeness or risk losing the lot to rot? Or do you pick quickly but end up with green wines and unripe tannins? Add all this to a vintage that had seen conditions see-saw and which overall was pitifully dry. Pouring over meteorological charts at that few days of harvest was probably all you could do – that and having a stiff gin and tonic and go with your instinct. Close your eyes and feel the force Luke.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Montrose’
Only four wines were shown from the St Estèphe appellation at the MW Institute tasting but Chateau Cos d’Estournel has turned in an excellent effort in 2007. Chateau Montrose meanwhile felt much more backward and Chateau Cos Labory and Chateau Lafon Rochet both felt light and lacking in depth. It’s really worth searching out their 2006s, 2008s and 2009s instead.
With the first Bordeaux 2010 releases starting to trickle out [at prices that seem on par to 2009] I’ve culled my tasting notes down by score for the vintage for the top thirty reds, the a dozen likely best value reds and then a dozen best dry and sweet whites as I saw it. It’s a snapshot obviously. Hope it’s helpful. The full notes for each chateau review can be found either by backtracking down the previous posts, through the search box or down under the Bordeaux Vintage 2010 profile.
St Estèphe has done well in 2010 and has produced big, strong and dense wines. Certainly this isn’t a vintage for early drinking and there is not the succulence of 2009 in the best wines this year. There is richness but it’s shown more in strength rather than in opulence. There is also noticeable grip on the palates amongst the wines along with plenty of dense tannin and high-ish alcohols. The wines will be long lived and will need time in bottle. This reflects the overall vintage conditions and partly Merlot’s reduced yield. The variety was affected by coulure because of unsettled weather during flowering, a problem that hasn’t so much affected quality but has reduced the quantity of Merlot in some blends.
Last year Chateau Montrose acquired 20 hectares of vines from Chateau Phélan Ségur, vineyards adjoining Montrose but which were in fact once part of the estate in the 19th century. This has, in effect, reunited Montrose into one single 90 hectare vineyard surrounding the chateau and the chais. It’s a beautiful spot, quiet and tranquil, looking down out across the Gironde, a much more reclusive place than that of Chateau Cos d’Estournel which grabs your attention on the D2 road that first brings you into the St Estephe appellation. For me Montrose this year just has the edge over Cos. There is something extraordinary about Montrose 2010 to my palate. It has really vibrant, fresh aromatic qualities and wonderful concentration.
OK, so you’d expect to come away inspired by a trip to Chateau Margaux having spent an hour or so with the marvelously enthusiastic Paul Pontallier. You’d also expect to have a more profound sense of the natural beauty and deceptive simplicity of fine winemaking after spending some time with Alfred Tesseron at Chateau Pontet Canet. And you’d have to be made of stone not to be awe inspired by the new chais assembled by Jean-Guillaume Prats at Chateau Cos d’Estournel or the quality of his controversial 2009 grand vin whatever your verdict. But would you really expect to be all fired up after a visit to Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse? Probably not, but that’s just what happened to me after I’d spent an afternoon there. I’ll explain more later but first some background.