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Château Duhart-Milon

Château Duhart-Milon

Anyone with more than a passing interest in the wines of Bordeaux is aware that the en primeur system is intrinsically interwoven with controversy. One major thorn in the side of this system is the issue of blind tasting; during the primeur tastings, many wines can be tasted blind, but some – mainly the upper crust wines, first growths and similar – cannot be assessed in this manner because they won’t pour their wines anywhere else other than at the château. It is impossible to judge a wine in isolation from the label and its associations when you are surrounded by all the paraphernalia of Petrus, Latour or Haut-Brion. When you stand looking out over the vines of one of these famous name from the tasting room it is not so much ‘blind’ as ‘blindingly obvious’; you know exactly where you are and what you are tasting, and that of course may influence how you judge the wine.

All the first growths, including Château Lafite-Rothschild, behave in this manner. At Lafite there is a rather understated tasting room, where Charles Chevallier (who retired from this role in 2015) has always stood in attendance; here both first and second wines are lined up for tasting, as well as another wine, also owned by the Rothschilds, but frequently overlooked. This is Château Duhart-Milon. Indeed, it was during the primeur tastings one year that I made my first-ever visit to this estate; there was building work at Lafite, and as a consequence the tastings were moved to Château Duhart-Milon instead.

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