A Château Montrose Evening with Hervé Berland

If there is one Bordeaux property that deserves its ‘Super Second’ status, it is Château Montrose. This renowned estate, located in the Saint-Estèphe appellation, consistently produces some of the Bordeaux’s best wines every year. It is also one of only a handful of producers in Bordeaux to earn 100 points from Robert Parker in both 2009 and 2010.  But the excellence of Montrose goes well beyond these two vintages, which is tied to its prime terroir and vast history. With this in mind, we were very pleased to attend a dinner and tasting with Hervé Berland, the Managing Director of Château Montrose, held at Michael Mina’s Stripsteak restaurant in Miami. The dinner included wines from Château Monrose, Dame de Montrose, and Château Tronquoy-Lalande (also owned by the Martin Bouygues of Montrose). The event was sponsored by Best Wine Co., a negoçiant firm that specializes in high-end Bordeaux wines.

chateau-montrose-dinner-2Mr. Berland started the evening by offering a few words about Montrose, its terroir and its history. He discussed his role as Managing Director, and why he came to Montrose in 2011. Prior to Montrose, he was the Managing Director at Château Mouton Rothschild for many years. He has certainly approached his new role with both passion and dedication. Among the topics discussed were the prime location of the gravelly terroir, atop the hill overlooking the Gironde Estuary. Of course we discussed the wines of Montrose as well. He has quite a bit of enthusiasm for the most recent vintages, especially 2016. He described the near-perfect conditions during 2016, and is very optimistic about the wines to be produced. He drew comparisons to both 2005 and 2010, two exceptional vintages at Montrose.

img_1327We also discussed the massive renovations that were recently completed at Montrose. This included the creation of perhaps the most impressive barrel cellar in Bordeaux. Having recently visited Château Montrose, I can attest to the superb design and impressive facilities throughout the property. Mr. Berland told me that they are currently renovating their vat room, switching to smaller vats so that they can vinify individual parcels from the vineyard. As successful as Montrose has been in recent years, it is commendable that they continue such massive investments in their facilities. It is this type of dedication that leads to the fantastic wines that are produced in Bordeaux today.

chateau-montrose-bottles-2Paired with dishes such as lamb chops and steak (of course), we enjoyed a number of excellent wines. First up was the 2013 Château Tronquoy-Lalande blanc, which was quite impressive. This was very popular among the attendees, and is an extremely smooth wine. We then tried the 2012 Château Tronquoy-Lalande rouge, which is a nice red Bordeaux wine for early drinking. We moved on to the 2011 Château Montrose, which showed a step-up in complexity. Having tasted a number of 2011 Bordeaux wines over the past two years, it is apparent that these wines are started to soften and become approachable. This 2011 Montrose is definitely approachable now, but will need several years to show its true potential. Mr. Berland noted that this vintage is often overlooked, due to the stellar 2009 and 2010 vintages, but that it deserves far more attention. Next we tasted the 2012 Dame de Montrose, the second wine of Château Montrose. Being more Merlot-based, this wine was soft, fruity, and quite charming. These are known as some of the best second wines in Bordeaux, and for good reason.

chateau-montrose-botles-1We then tasted the highly acclaimed 2005 Château Montrose, which I felt was the most impressive wine of the evening. Despite its obvious complexity, it is only starting to show its potential. This is a wine that will drink well for decades. We finished the evening with the 1998 and 1986 Château Montrose. The 1998 was enjoyable, but lacked some of the concentration and complexity of the 2005; however, it is ready for business, and has shown improvement since I last tasted this almost two years ago. The 1986 vintage, provided by one of the attendees of the dinner, possessed the charming aromas and flavors found in aged Bordeaux wines. But it is obvious that the 1986 vintage does not possess the sheer beauty and poise of the 1989 and 1990 vintages that soon followed it.

chateau-montrose-herve-berlandThis fantastic evening perfectly demonstrated the consistent excellence of Château Montrose. The dedication and passion of Mr. Berland should help to maintain the excellence at Montrose, and perhaps propel it to even greater heights. Perhaps this will become apparent with the most recent 2014, 2015, and 2016 vintages. But as the wines of Château Montrose are known to be some of the longest lived in Bordeaux, tasting these excellent wines in their youth provides only a glimpse of what these wines will eventually become. One thing is for certain; the investments and leadership at Montrose should help them to maintain their ‘Super Second’ status for the years to come.

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Château Gruaud Larose – 1986

GL 1986This is at its peak, or just coming off of its peak. Dark ruby color with some lightening of the edges. A mature, earthy nose with cassis, leather, old library book, mint, and forest floor. Full-bodied with great concentration. Some sweetness on the attack. A finish of great length and complexity. Firm tannins. The fruit/acid balance is perhaps favoring the acidity a bit. I would drink these over the next few years, as I think this may start to slowly decline. It’s certainly drinking in a great spot right now. A deep, intense, and powerfully aromatic Gruaud Larose. -94pts Dec 2015

GL 1986Questionable storage with this 1986  from Saint Julien. Started out a bit awkward, but after 15 minutes, noted leather, old library book, bacon, red fruit, and hint of eucalyptus. Still a bit tannic with notable acidity. After 30 minutes or so, the nose took on a bit of an off-putting swampy character. A very strange bottle indeed. Will try this again soon! Oct. 2015

Château Gruaud Larose – 1989

1989-gruad-laroseFrom one of the best values of the 2nd growths, this ’89 has matured nicely. Medium ruby with lightening of edges. Decanted for 4 hours. A dense array of aromatics, with cherry > blackcurrant, leather, musk, licorice, and sous bois. The tertiary notes are starting to outshine the fruit a bit. Good balance and smooth on the palate. Tannins silky smooth. Medium length finish. Acidity seems a bit high on the finish. This is still drinking well, but it appears to be coming off its peak. Still, there’s at least a few years left of good drinking. 92pts –  Sept. 2015

Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2003

IMG_3895Tasting Note:

Dark ruby red and concentrated, with minimal lightening of the edges. Benefited from 2 hour decant. Open nose of dark fruit, blueberries, a little leather, damp earth, and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, rich, mouth-filling and silky. Ripe tannins. Long 60 second finish. Should continue to drink well and improve for 10+ years


About Chateau Leoville Poyferre:

Chateau Leoville Poyferre was once part of the massive Leoville estate, present in the 17th and 18th centuries. This Second Growth Chateau in St. Julien has been consistently producing top quality wines, especially since 2000. The vineyards are 80 hectares and the terroir is mostly gravel with some limestone.

Three Interesting Facts:

  1. The Poyferre family owned the estate for a very short time, but it happened to be during the 1855 classification.
  2. The Cuvelier family has owned the estate since 1920, with Didier Cuvelier running the estate since 1979.
  3. Leoville Poyferre shares a building (and entrance) with Leoville Las Cases. For marketing purposes, they designed an imaginary chateau for the label that is now the current logo. In 2014, they built a new facility across the street that resembles the logo seen on their label.

Blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

Aging Potential: 2030

Ducru-Beaucaillou 2005

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Tasting Note:

Impressive complexity and concentration. Let this decant for 3 hours, tasting it along the way. Dark purple color. The nose exhibited bold and ripe dark and blue fruit and secondary aromas of truffle, forest floor, violet, and wood spice. The oak is in no way overbearing. The palate is silky smooth with an impressive mid-palate. Finish is medium-plus. The structure is sound, with round tannins and a nice balanced acidity. This wine is just getting started, but is very enjoyable right now. Glad to have more of this.


About Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou:

Ducru-Beaucaillou is an acclaimed Second Growth Chateau in the St. Julien appellation of Bordeaux. It has been managed by Bruno Borie since 2003.

Three Interesting Facts:

  1. The Ducru vineyards were once part of Beychevelle, until it was broken up in the 17th century due to considerable debts.
  2. The name ‘Ducru’ comes from Bertrand Ducru, who purchased the estate in 1795. ‘Beaucaillou’ literally means ‘beautiful pebbles’, referring to the large stones found on the property.
  3. In the 18th century, the estate was known as ‘Maucaillou’, meaning ‘bad pebbles’, a reference to the difficult, stony ground and perhaps the poor quality of the wine.

Blend: 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot

Aging Potential: 2018-2050