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Château Montviel Pomerol 2005

Château Montviel 2005

It feels to me that these days the holy grail in Bordeaux is value.

In a few weeks I will head out to Bordeaux once more for a week of tasting the primeurs, where I suspect I will discover 2017 is a rather complicated vintage in this region. Although I haven’t yet penned my introduction and weather report for my review of the vintage (and time is short, so I had better get my skates on) there is one feature of the 2017 Bordeaux vintage that I know will have shaped the story of the vintage, and the wines themselves, and that is frost. Just as parts of the Loire Valley were hit by frost in 2017, so too were parts of Bordeaux. And frost can turn a vintage into a tale of devastated crops, narrow escapes, second budding, heterogeneous ripening and more. It can drive down volumes, quality, and I suspect the mood of the winemaker, in equal measure.

Even with this anticipated complexity, I expect there will still be some brilliant wines in the mix, hidden somewhere in among the several hundred I usually taste. This doesn’t sound like a repeat of 2013 Bordeaux, where wash-out weather ruined the vintage for everybody (although even then, there were still some very fine white wines, both dry and sweet). It sounds much more patchwork in character, with some châteaux and appellations blessed, while others will have been blighted. And I expect we will see some leading châteaux, those blessed with huge budgets, where quality matters above volume of production, turning out micro-cuvée grands vins representing a minor part of their harvest in order to produce a wine that fits their status and reputation. The problem is, these wines always carry a price tag that reflects this status.

Château Montviel Pomerol 2005

Finding quality in Bordeaux isn’t difficult these days, provided you have no qualms about how much you pay for your wine. As I suggested in my opening statement, the greater challenge is finding the value.

The cru bourgeois châteaux of the left bank, the distant corners of the Graves appellation, minor right-bank appellations such as Fronsac and the satellites, and the less prestigious corners of the St Emilion and Pomerol appellations all provide happy hunting grounds in the search for value. I am not averse to a little hunting here myself, as evinced by this week’s wine, which I would not mind drinking more regularly. The vineyards of Château Montviel are dotted around the village of Le Grand Moulinet, near the limit of the Pomerol appellation. There are 5 hectares of vineyards here, planted with 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, a fairly traditional ratio. Of note, there is also a plot of vines close to Château Feytit-Clinet on the Pomerol plateau, acquired by the late Catherine Péré-Vergé as part of Château La Violette in 2006, that has been regularly declassified into Château Montviel.

That acquisition predated the vintage of this particular Weekend Wine, but this doesn’t seem to matter as the quality here is good, as was the value (when I bought it, a few years ago now). The 2005 from Château Montviel has a dark and glossy hue, with a very broad and deeply pigmented core, and a thin rim of very early maturity. It has a quite enticing nose, savoury and surprisingly taut considering its age, its mature tobacco, black truffle and black bean character wrapped up with notes of spicy black pepper but also the suggestion of a very correct, tightly drawn frame. This aromatic suggestion is realised on the palate, happily, as here I find an elegant precision, a taut composition, with fine acidity for a 2005, as well as softly resolved tannins leaving the wine ready and very accessible. There is plenty of savoury flavour here too, with a fine black bean and cherry-skin bite. This is bright, attractive, mature but still quite punchy, and feels more correctly framed than a bottle I tasted at the château a few years ago. 93/100 (19/3/18)

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