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Montrose 2003

36 Pre-Arrival 750ml
WA 98
JS 97
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Tasting Notes


The 2003 Montrose was served blind in Bordeaux on two occasions. Picked between 11 to 26 September, it is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It remains one of the outstanding wines of a very black and white vintage. Without knowledge of the vintage, I was hesitant to suggest 2003, because though there is clearly fruit intensity locked up inside this Saint Estèphe, it is counterbalanced by the estate's trademark masculinity and austerity. So both on the nose and the palate it reaches this happy medium: pure blackberry, graphite and roasted herbs on the nose, perhaps even more elegant than I have observed on previous bottles. The palate is medium-bodied rather than full bodied with sturdy tannins couched in layers of seamless blackberry and cassis fruit, offset by scents of tobacco and graphite. As usual it has immense length and depth, a Montrose that is really just a few chapters into what is sure to be a longer "book" than many other 2003s. It is not a perfect Montrose, but a couple of hairs' breadth away. Tasted February 2017.


After the 2009, this is the most exciting Montrose ever made, with intense aromas and flavors of plums, blueberries, spices, tobacco and cedar. It’s full-bodied with extremely refined tannins but a dense, delicious palate. Better in 2016, but why wait?

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Montrose brand image

The Winery

Château Montrose

"Wine is made in the vines and not in the winery."
- Jean Bernard Delmas, Winemaker

Château Monrose, formerly part of the Calon estate, is a second growth Bordeaux in the Saint-Estephe appellation. At around 150 acres and production averaging 15,000 cases per annum, Montrose is considerably large for the region. The Chateau is most famous for taking third place among French and Californian wines in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The 1990 vintage is to Montrose what the song “Come on Eileene” is to Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Not to say a one hit wonder- but rather their biggest hit to those familiar with the estate. You just can’t get it out of your head!

The wines are known for over-performing in lesser vintages, and are stylistically deeply tannic. Its location is ideal, situated close to “The River” (Girode Estuary), which for many reasons is helpful including the way it makes the temperature milder. The stones create pebbles that retain heat from the day and warm the vines at night, which cause well-rounded maturity of the fruit. The wines are racy and boast tobacco, currant, oak and cocoa. Other vintages to look out for include 1900, 1928, 1929, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1959 and 1961.

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