1919 Montrose


Obscure Bordeaux vintages are like the detritus of odds and ends you find at the back of the drawer you never open. The more forgotten or derided the annus horribilus, the more it piques my interest. In my experience there are always bottles, “bottles” not “wines” that defy expectations. Take this example. 

The 1919 Montrose was born a few months after the First World War when Louis-Victor Charmolüe, incidentally born at Château Figeac, was its incumbent proprietor. Assuming that you were not around to remember the specifics of the growing season, there was good flowering, but rain in July caused outbreaks of mildew and oïduim. August was blisteringly hot, resulting in some good, but often volatile wines that merchants opined would never last the course. Well, this bottle disproves the assertion that all wines were short-lived. In fact it is a glorious, mature Saint-Estèphe. Retaining more than enough vigor on the nose, it unfolds with red berries and traces of lavender, miraculously gaining intensity instead of fading with oxygen contact after nigh a century. The palate has a natural, effortless balance, the torrid heat of the summer imparting a candied, effervescent quality with a finish you could easily mistake for a Côte d’Or. Like many ancient vintages of Montrose, this is an absolute marvel, proof if necessary, that timeworn Claret can always spring surprises. 93/Drink 2020-2026.