I was served blind a magnum of the 1990 Montrose in Cape Town, which had been purchased on release and stored in perfect conditions. Now, here was the real deal, unfettered by any infection, a regal Saint Estèphe. It shows approximately the same evolution as the 1989 in bottle, but unsurprisingly showed less bricking in magnum format. The bouquet is cut from a different cloth to the 1989 and attests to that warm vintage: hickory, clove, undergrowth and wild fennel, later garrigue-like scents and terracotta, the latter two more pronounced on the bottle format compared to the youthful magnum. The palate is full-bodied and powerful, yet the balance is perfect, a ballerina-like poise with the structure of the Forth Bridge. It is a multi-layered Montrose that offers enormous length, fresh and vibrant with the magnum demonstrating tangible mineralite and tension as it fans out on the crescendo of a finish—a fanfare for Saint Estèphe in all its glory. Improving all the time in the glass, this example of 1990 Montrose is a privilege to behold. One can speculate whether larger formats are a 'safer bet' in terms of experiencing this behemoth without any brettanomyces. Perhaps. However, if you do come across the 1990 Montrose like this, you are in the presence of a king. (NM)
The 1990 Montrose is justly famous, but in my experience, it has only been a hair superior to the underrated 1989 here, and I have never understood the price differential in the market of the two wines. This most recent bottle of the 1990 was drunk out for the night in Napa Valley, where it showed very well indeed, offering up a deep and powerful bouquet of black cherries, sweet cassis, a touch of currant leaf, dark soil tones, cigar smoke and a fair bit of toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and shows off truly exceptional depth at the core, with ripe, moderate tannins, fine focus and grip and a long, well-balanced and complex finish. There is just a touch of brett on the backend here, but it is very modest and does not detract from the very serious pleasure that this wine is beginning to deliver.
Full ruby-red. Wild, exotic aromas of crystallized redcurrant, leather, tobacco and minerals; distinctly exotic, even overripe. Then lush, sweet and opulent, with an atypically velvety texture for Montrose. But extremely young and structured, finishing with powerful tannins and great grip and length. Almost California-like in style; in Bordeaux, they'd refer to the fruit expression of this wine as 'original,' which is not necessarily high praise. (ST)
Dark in color with decadent aromas of ripe fruit, earth and amazing mint and spearmint undertones, yet there's also an underlying meaty funkiness. Full-bodied, with layers of very ripe fruit and velvety tannins. Massive and caressing. A big, powerful wine. Like velvet. (JS, Web Only-2006)
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