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. (NM)
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?
Good medium-deep ruby-red. Superripe, roasted aromas of black raspberry, chocolate and licorice. Wonderfully dense, sweet and lush, with an early roundness rare for this wine. A monumental St. Estephe with almost confectionery sweetness. Wonderfully horizontal, palate-saturating wine with huge but thoroughly ripe, lush tannins. It's hard to believe that a wine this rich and deep could be carrying just 13.2% alcohol. The only thing missing here is the floral topnote of 2005, but that's a quibble in this baking-hot vintage, as Montrose's cooler, water-retentive clay-rich soil handled the extreme heat and drought as well as any chateau in the Bordeaux region. The final blend is 63% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. (ST)
Thought by many tasters to be the wine of the vintage at the time of the 2004 barrel tastings. Has it retained that status? It is certainly a hugely powerful wine, monumental even. It is also finely balanced, with great dark tannins working in partnership with brooding black fruit. The question is whether it is too big, too powerful: only time will tell. (RV)
This is hard to distinguish as an '03, as an austere, racy profile of charcoal, black currant and iron reigns. Taut and focused, with a sense of freshness from buried bay leaf and tobacco accents, this is set apart in the vintage by drive and cut. Still a bit tight. The insider's wine in this vintage.—Blind '01/'03/'05 Bordeaux retrospective (December 2017). Best from 2020 through 2040. (JM, Web-2018)
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