|Montrose [good levels, poor labels]||1990||Bordeaux (Red)||1 x 75cl||£400||2||100 WA|
Tasted at the Montrose vertical in London, the 1990 Montrose is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc (almost identical to the 1989 Montrose) and picked between 14 September and 3 October. It has a formidable reputation and for years it overshadowed the 1989. That said, it is well known that there are incidences of brettanomyces that compromise some bottles and the one bottle in London showed just a tincture of this. It still merited a score of 97/100, though it only served to highlight the ethereal delineation of the 1989. Then literally a couple of days later. 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. Tasted January 2017.
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