“The key to success with Château Montrose“, opined my knowledgeable friend, “is to tuck away a bottle, preferably a wine from an off vintage, in the cellar and then simply forget about it. On returning in fifty years time you will find a vinous pleasure beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals.” Sadly my own tasting experience does not include examples of Château Montrose as they enter their sixth decade, but my friend was quite adamant that the 1952 (actually I forget the vintage – shocking, I know – but it was certainly about this sort of age) was one of the best wines he had drunk in many years. Clearly there is something very special about certain bottles of Montrose.
Etienne Théodore Dumoulin
In researching the history of the vineyards of Bordeaux, it is not uncommon for me to find myself delving into medieval history, with stories of 12th-century fortresses, ancient seigneuries and the Hundred Years’ War. Not so with Château Montrose, which is one of the youngest of all the classed growths of the Médoc. At the end of the 18th century the land which today is the Montrose vineyard was nothing more than heather-encrusted moorland, owned by the Ségur family. In 1778 it was acquired, as part of the Calon-Ségur estate, by Etienne Théodore Dumoulin, who seems to have done little with it other than bequeath it to his children upon his death in 1806.
Of his three children it was one of his sons, also named Etienne Théodore, who took control. His attention was drawn to part of the estate, a plot of land to the south of the Calon vineyard and adjacent to the Gironde, entitled La Lande de l’Escargeon, the situation of which was such that it clearly had potential as a vineyard. Indeed, having cleared the heather and scrub he discovered that the soil beneath to be gravelly and thus eminently suitable for the vine. Planting was underway by 1815, with good results, and by 1820 Dumoulin had expanded the vineyard and erected a small château (below). Fast work indeed!