Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Massive Château Montrose Vertical with Hervé Berland, Managing Director, and Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

Picture: Hervé Berland, Managing Director of Château Montrose, Panos Kakaviatos, Wine Journalist, and Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR & WineTours (to Germany, Burgundy and Bordeaux)

For the past years, Panos Kakaviatos - based in Strasbourg, France - has organized a Grand Bordeaux Tasting in Washington DC at the beginning of the year, when he spends a few weeks in his hometown. This year’s Washington DC Grand Bordeaux Tasting featured a massive Château Montrose Vertical with Hervé Berland, Managing Director, at Restaurant Ripple.

Picture: Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

Panos Kakaviatos is a highly respected Bordeaux expert, who regularly writes for the Decanter, Harpers Wine & Spirits – two excellent UK based wine magazines - and other wine publications.


Dear wine loving friends,

another January, another top Bordeaux estate with 15 vintages and dinner.

Hervé Berland is coming to town on Tuesday evening, 24 January, with 15 vintages (four bottles each, so generous pours) for 40 people.

The evening will begin with high-end vintage Champagne - two brands to surprise you - thanks to Maria Denton and Mark Wessels, at 7 pm.

The vintages of Montrose span over 40 years from the 1970s to 2012 and include such years as 1982 (magnum bottles), 1986 (also from magnum), 1990, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009.

But wait, there's more (sounds like a TV ad...). Make it 16 vintages! I have sourced a bottle of 1989 and participants Chris Bublitz and Paul Marquardt have been so kind and generous as to offer one each from their cellars!

So we can compare 1990 to 1989. For example.

Chef Ryan Ratino will prepare a fantastic menu, as expected, to be paired with the vintages, so we will have normally three vintages per course (five courses). With the added 1989, four.

Best regards.

Panos Kakaviatos

The Event

We started with a Champagne Reception, courtesy of Maria Denton and Mark Wessels, in the bar area. We then moved to the main dining room. Ripple's Executive Chef Ryan Ratino created a lovely dinner to match the wines, which were served three-by-three for each of the five courses.

The company was terrific and included: Dave McIntyre (Washington Post), Mark Wessels (MacArthur Beverages), Ben Giliberti (Calvert Woodley), Michael Sands (Calvert Woodley), to name a few.

Hervé Berland 

Hervé Berland was 30 years with Château Mouton Rothschild, before retiring there and moving over to Château Montrose and Château Tronquoy Lalande in April 2012, just a few kilometers from Mouton in Saint-Estèphe. Since 2006, Hervé Berland had been Managing Director of Mouton Rothschild and with the Rothschild family since 1977.

Pictures: Hervé Berland, his wife, Christian Schiller and Annette Schiller in Washington DC. See: Fête du Bordeaux of Calvert and Woodley in Washington DC, 2012, USA

Château Montrose

Château Montrose is a Deuxième Cru en 1855 in Saint-Estèphe. La Dame de Montrose is the second wine.

The land of Château Montrose was originally part of the Calon-Ségur estate and owned by Alexandre de Ségur, who also owned other properties such as Chateau Mouton, Chateau Lafite and Chateau Latour. He gave the land to his son, Nicolas Alexandre, who sold it in 1778 to Etienne Theodore Dumoulin. Under the direction of her son, Theodore, the land was cleared and the first vineyards were planted. Eventually, the area was split from the greater Calon-Ségur estate and was renamed as Montrose-Ségur. By 1855 it had expanded to 50 hectares, was known simply as Montrose and classified as a Deuxième Cru.

The Last Decade

Succeeding three generations of the Charmolüe family, Martin and Olivier Bouygues acquired Château Montrose in 2006. They loved its wines, to which they had been introduced by their father, Francis Bouygues. Aware of the potential of its unique terroir, they appreciated the advantages and riches of the estate and decided to invest in it. Under their impetus, Montrose entered the 21st century with a spectacular reconstruction.

The exceptional project took seven years, from 2007 to 2013, a timespan justified by the wish to respect the estate’s cycle of activity. The 10,000-m² renovation met four major challenges set by Martin and Olivier Bouygues: To give Château Montrose the finest vinegrowing and winemaking facilities, including a new 1,000-m², 11-metre-high main barrel hall where the premium wine can mature in ideal conditions; to identify and take advantage of every opportunity to save and produce energy, especially through a geothermal system and 3,000 m² of rooftop solar panels; to respect the environment and significantly reduce the estate’s carbon footprint; and to preserve the overall architecture of Château Montrose in the typical 18th century Bordeaux style.

Following on from their predecessors, Martin and Olivier Bouygues aim to further enhance this unique terroir, a single sweep in an ideal location on the banks of the Gironde estuary.

Under the direction of Mélissa Bouygues and managed by Hervé Berland, the estate benefits from a combination of youth and experience in a multi-generational team in which vinegrowers and winemakers rub shoulders with technical specialists and academic experts.

The vineyards cover 95 hectares, with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.

Champagne Reception

We began the evening with Champagne.

2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare
2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne

Maria Denton with Moet Hennessy kindly brought the Piper-Heidsick and Mark Wessels with Bassins brought the Taittinger.

Picture: 2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare and 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne

Picture: Hervé Berland with Annette and Christian Schiller

Picture: Panos Kakaviatos

Picture: Hervé Berland with Dave McIntyre and Rudger der Vink

Picture: Rudger de Vink and Joshua Grainer

Picture: David White, Michael Sands, Rudger de Vink and Annette Schiller

Picture: Panos Kakaviatos and David White

Picture: Reception

Picture: Reception

The Dinner

Following the Champagne Reception in the bar area, we moved to Ripple's dining room for the dinner cum tasting.

Wild Hare Terrine
elderberry – frisee - shallot

First flight: 2012, 2008, 1995

Quail Egg
truffle – grits – cured yolk

Second flight: 2010, 2009, 2003

coco beans – oxtail - fennel

Third flight: 2005, 1990, 1989, 1976

American Bison Strip Loin
root vegetables – hay – smoked potatoes - jus

Forth flight: 2000, 1986, 1985

Meadow Creek Dairy „Mountaineer“
apple butter – levain – hazelnuts

Fifth flight: 1989, 1982, 1970

Chef Ryan Ratino

Chef Ryan Ratino is Ripple's new executive chef. The 26-year-old over from Marjorie Meek-Bradley in January 2017.  Ryan Ratino's New York-heavy resume includes stops at Michelin-starred Caviar Russe, WD-50, and Dovetail NYC, though his career began in Florida where he worked at Shula’s Steak House, at the Four-Diamond AAA award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. That's also where he served as the executive chef of Todd English at Bluezoo. Locally, he's also worked at minibar by José Andrés and Virginia's L’Auberge Provencale.

Ryan Ratino says he's shooting for a Michelin star in the first year. "Michelin is something I've set my career on. It's always been my aspiration," he says. "It's something I really want to achieve. We're going for it."

Picture: Chef Ryan Ratino

The Wines

Panos Kakviatos on facebook

Panos Kakaviatos on facebook: The 2010 was overall the greatest methinks (for the future) but we had very fine bottles of 1990 and the 1989 was just as good. I really enjoyed the 1995 with the savory terrine. Perhaps the best food wine combo was the second flight. The egg and truffle were amazing, matched well against the youthful 2010, 2009 and the more roasted, evolved 2003.

Picture: Panos Kakaviatos and Jose Aguirre, General Manager and Wine Director of Ripple

Bijan Jabbari on facebook

Bijan Jabbari on facebook: Le millésime 1990 était la star du soir ! Mais 1989 était également exceptionnelle.

Picture: Massive Château Montrose Vertical

Howard Cooper on facebook

Howard Cooper on facebook: Two or three years ago, I had the 1989 and 1990 together and thought that the 1989 was the much better wine. Last night, the 1989 that I had was not nearly as good as the one then. Note that, while the 1990s were sourced from the winery, the 1989s were sourced from people at the tasting, meaning inconsistent provenance. My sense for listening to people is that some bottles were better than others.

Picture: Massive Château Montrose Vertical

Kevin Shin on wine-berserkers

Mr. Berland brought fifteen vintages of Chateau Montrose. Panos, Paul and Chris generously contributed the 89 each so we could compare to the 90. It was incredibly fascinating and educational to taste sixteen vintages of Chateau Montrose. It certainly was the first time where I tasted more than a few verticals of Chateau Montrose. My impression was that the wines of Chateau Montrose ages at a glacial pace. A hint of Cabernet green, lead pencil, strong mineral expression, very polished silky palate and youthfulness really reminded me Chateau Leoville Las Cases. Although I have experienced major inconsistency with the 86 and 90 Montrose in the past, these bottles were very clean and expressive. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the 76, 86, 98, 08 and 12 showed. As expected the 90, 00, 03, 05, 09 and 10 stole the show. The only minor disappointment was the 89 which was overshadowed by the 90.

Picture: Massive Château Montrose Vertical

First Montrose Flight (3 Notes)

2012 Château Montrose 94 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Intense cassis driven nose, blueberry liqueur, cabernet floral dust, lead pencil, dark spices, caramel and earth. There is a very slight hint of over ripe fruit but not too bothersome. Excellent concentration, intense cassis driven palate impression, bright acidity, strong presence of mineral and a long sweet finish with cassis at the end. It is slightly coarse, certainly not the most polished wine. Nevertheless, excellent concentration and intense sweet cassis fruit make the wine quite promising. It is developing nicely. Will need minimum ten more years to reach the youthful peak. This is certainly not a sub 90 point wine in RP scale. If you can source at sub $70, this is a compelling value.

2008 Château Montrose 95 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Very floral bright nose clearly reflecting the vintage. Bright sweet red fruit, perfume, cedar, caramel, a hint of truffle, lead pencil and limestone. Very good concentration, very precise, beautifully layered, silky and polished, bright acidity, noticeable very fine tannins and a lovely long red fruit and light caramel driven finish. Although the nose is expressive, the mouth feel is a bit tight. IMO, this is as pretty as St. Estephe can get. This is developing into a classic claret. If you enjoy the floral and precise aspect of Loire Cab Franc, this is a Bordeaux that will not bore you. It will require additional five years of cellaring to reach the youthful peak.

1995 Château Montrose 94 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

It is WOTF for some as it is at the peak drinking window. Nicely mature classic left bank/Pauillac nose displaying plum, sweet slightly dry red fruit, also a hint of cassis, lead pencil, cedar, leather, caramel and earth. Good concentration, nicely integrated palate, warm and soft, a hint of coarse tannins and a medium to long cedar and mature red fruit driven finish. A solid Bordeaux that is drinking nicely.

Second Montrose Flight (3 Notes)

2010 Château Montrose 98 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Very detailed and precise nose displaying fresh black fruits, crushed wild blueberries, blueberry jam, a hint of cassis, licorice, strong lead pencil, rose, milk chocolate and earth. Very polished sensual palate, incredibly concentrated and layered yet airy and detailed, exceptional balance, cool silky blue fruit driven palate impression, the perfect amount of acidity and mineral and an incredibly long silky finish. One of those rare wines that has both the intensity and weightlessness.

2009 Château Montrose 97 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

It is interesting to compare with the 10. Decadent ripe blue fruits, cassis, dark milk chocolate, roasted coffee bean and earth. Excellent concentration, a bit chewier, denser and richer than the 10, beautifully layered, intense ripe black fruit and roasted coffee bean driven palate impression, good acidity, strong presence of mineral and a long decadent roasted black fruit driven finish. It seems richer and riper than the 10. Both wines perfectly express the vintage characters. I prefer the 10 slightly for the balance and sophistication for now. Need another ten years to reach the youthful peak.

2003 Château Montrose 97 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

The roasted fruit has mostly dissipated hence no longer kinky. A slight hint of green which is not unusual in the 03s, keeps the wine fresh and interesting. Beautiful harmonious nose displaying cassis, a hint of plum, green pepper, cedar, milk coffee, eucalyptus, strong lead pencil and earth. Excellent concentration, nicely integrated palate, soft and warm, beautifully layered and surprisingly polished, nice mineral presence and a lovely long silky finish with a hint of cedar and milk coffee at the end. The nose expression is youthful but the palate is warm and round, totally sensual and ready. I believe this will age well due to the excellent fruit concentration. I believe the structure is there but masked by the opulent fruit. Some will disagree. No matter what, it is totally ready to go just like the 03 Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Margaux, Latour and etc.

Third Montrose Flight (4 Notes)

2005 Château Montrose 97 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Intense nose displaying crème de cassis, ink, coffee, mint, dill, mocha, lead pencil, a hint of cedar and dark spices. Excellent concentration, unctuous and chewy, layers up layers of intense dark fruit, bright acidity, strong presence of mineral and an incredible long intense cassis driven finish. For me, the most intense, bold and structured wine of the night. Really impressive. It is enjoyable with the youthful opulent fruit but will need another five to ten years to reach the youthful peak. Really impressive.

1990 Château Montrose 98 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Fully mature complex nose displaying cassis, a hint of decadent red fruit, plum, a hint of green, caramel, forest floor, dark milk chocolate, cedar and earth. Beautiful harmonious palate, decadent red fruit and milk chocolate driven palate impression, warm and round yet silky and polished, nicely integrated tannins and a long sweet finish. The bottle served at Pano’s table seems more youthful but I prefer our bottle as it feels more complete and enjoyable. It is always fascinating to compare the fresh and precise 89 and simply hedonistic 90. Unfortunately, the 90 Montrose can be terribly inconsistent often with strong brett. However the 90 is the clear winner today. Drinking magnificently.

1989 Château Montrose 95 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Expressive nose displaying decadent black fruit, cassis, dark flower, a hint of stemmy green, lead pencil, cedar, leather and earth. Excellent concentration, beautifully layered, excellent mineral presence and a long sweet finish. Today, this seems more youthful but not as enjoyable as the 90. This is a classic claret. Panos, Chris and Paul generously contributed a bottle each. The only wine that is not coming from the Chateau. I suspect our bottle may have been shaken a bit as the overall impression is not as precise and slightly muddled compare to the previous 89s.

1976 Château Montrose 92 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Surprisingly youthful dark color. Old school Bordeaux nose displaying a hint of cassis, plum, ash, strong mint, lead pencil, cedar and mineral. Very good concentration, fully resolved harmonious palate and a medium to long finish with mineral and ash at the end. According to Herve, it was picked early which helped to retain the freshness. It really is quite fresh with a hint of green expressing as mint/spearmint. Not the most complex but a beautiful mature old school claret.

Fourth Montrose Flight (3 Notes)

2000 Château Montrose 96 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Beautifully detailed nose displaying subtle black fruit, blackberry, a hint of cassis and caramel, ink, violet, perfume, cedar and mineral. Excellent concentration, silky and polished, bright acidity, strong presence of mineral and a long seamless finish that resonates. For my palate, this, along with the 10, are the most polished wines of the evening. This is equally cool and precise but slightly less concentration than the 10. It is ready but another five years of cellaring will result in additional tertiary notes. Excellent showing. I like how the 00s are developing.

1986 Château Montrose 94 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Expressive nose displaying cool blue fruit, blueberry, cassis, a hint of ash, spearmint, flowers, a hint of bell pepper and mineral. Excellent concentration, silky and polished, nicely integrated tannins and a long cassis driven finish. The overall impression is a bit straightforward. Very youthful , in line with the other 86 Bordeauxs.

1985 Château Montrose 92 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Fully mature nose displaying subtle sweet red fruit, plum, a hint of cassis, lead pencil, cedar, ash, a hint of green, tobacco and mineral. Fully integrated palate, soft and round and a medium long finish. This is the softest and most round Montrose of the night. The expression is in line with other classified growth from the vintage, i.e. round and warm.

Fifth Montrose Flight (3 Notes)

1998 Château Montrose 93 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Very harmonious nose displaying creme de cassis as well as succulent candied red fruit, artificial cherry candy, a hint of ash, cedar, mint and strong mineral. Medium concentration, impressive polished palate, cassis driven palate impression, good acidity and mineral presence and a medium to long finish. Not the most concentrated wine but with enough fruit. Quite fresh and pure. Ready to go but still quite youthful and the tertiary notes are not fully developed. A pleasant surprise.

1982 Château Montrose 93 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

Our bottle is corked but Pano’s to rescue us! The second bottle is correct, sweet black fruit, cassis, a hint of green, cedar, leather and strong limestone. Medium concentration, good freshness and a medium finish. Considering the vintage, I am hoping for a bit more. It is at the peak.

1970 Château Montrose 94 Points
France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

The 70 Montrose can be really irregular. Luckily we have a correct bottle. Fully mature claret nose displaying red fruit, plum, dry cherry, mint, cedar, leather and earth. Fully resolved harmonious palate. A youthful example. Really nice showing.

Howard Cooper on wineberserkers (Comment on Kevin Shin)

Thank you Panos for setting up another wonderful tasting. I was impressed with how consistently good the wines were. They were of a very consistent style.

I was very impressed with the 2008 and 1998 from less heralded vintages. Beautiful balance on these wines. I also was very impressed with the 2000 and the 1995. I have generally liked 1996s (which we did not have) more than 1995s, which I often find too soft. But this was a very impressive 1995. Excellent wine.

I very much preferred the 1985 to the 1986, which tasted a bit funky to me. The 1985 was the second excellent 1985 I have had in the last six months of so. This one was really good, but not in the same class as the 1985 Leoville las Cases I had last fall.

I really liked the 2010 and 2005. I thought both of these were real highlights of the night. I liked both of these more than the 2009, which had less acidity and tasted less fresh to me than the other two.

Interestingly, I had the 1989 and 1990 together a couple of years ago and really preferred the 1989. This time, I thought the 1990 was much the superior wine. I think that the 1990 was not that much different (maybe a bit better this time) but the 1989 I had this time was nowhere near as good as the 1989 I had previously. I think it teaches all of us to not make definitive judgments based on one tasting of a wine.

Finally, I am amazed by how well 1970s are doing these days. Right now, more them seem fresh than do 1982s!!!! The 1982 Montrose was very good, but I thought the 1970 was better. Certainly, back at the time of 1970 there were fewer really good producers than today or even in 1982. But for producers who were on their game at the time, this is just a truly great and I think underrated vintage.

Then, a real shout-out to Ripple. They have a lot of new people there and I know a lot of us wondered what would happen to quality. Well, this is the third big wine tasting I have been to there this months and all three were home runs. In food and service. Great job.

Alan Strauss on wineberserkers (Comment on Kevin Shin)

Great evening. Thanks for pulling this together Panos. A very successful evening and Montrose showed quite well in DC!

I thought the flight of 2005, 1990, 1989, 1976 was the flight of the evening. I was expecting the 89 to Trump (sorry couldn't resist) the 90 but this bottle of 90 was exceptional. So sweet and pure without the issues associated with changing a diaper. If you find a bottle that has not been hit by the S-Storm you are blessed and rewarded with a wine that has an amazing long life ahead of it IMHO. The 76 was a fine example of a fully matured and resolved wine. I can't say that I have ever had the wine before, but like Keith, would expect it to be over the hill and not enjoyable. This was NOT the case last night.

I loved 2005, 2000, 2010. I was not as big a fan of the 2009. I found it a bit flabby and lacking structure. The 03 was good, not the roasted mess that people thought or concentrated, overly hot, exotic Cali cab wannabe that others claimed. I will be interested to see how the 03 continues to evolve. Other than the 76, the most surprising wine for me was the 98. I thought it had balance and a lovely combination of cassis and cedar that I was not expecting. I love many of the right bank 98's and HB made a killer wine that year as well. I would be happy to own the 98 Montrose.

Picture: The End - Annette Schiller, Dave McIntyre, Joshua Grainer and Maria Denton

Panos Kakaviatos on wineberserkers (Comment on Kevin Shin)

Superb notes Kevin.

Bottle variation a factor and I recall tasting two really good 1990s out of the four. The one at our table was quite youthful as you wrote which was good, too. I guess we had the best of the 1989s, because it was darn tasty at our table. I think it was Paul's, because a particularly pristine bottle of 1989. Anyway, bravo to 1990. I must say it was the best experience I have ever had with that vintage. And provenance does not always mean that ex-chateau is great. The first time I ever tried 1990 was ex chateau and is smelled like horse shit! And that is what the then director had said, back in 2004.

As for the other vintages, I agree with you on the 2000. What a great wine in the making. I was a bit apprehensive about it, given the fact that about six years ago at Vinexpo in a side by side tasting with 2008, then a young and very tasty pup, the 2000 came across as acidic, closed and bordering on pinched on the finish. Sure enough, it was a phase, and as Herve Berland said, the 2000 is now at a stage where the switch has been turned "on" for just the beginning of a soon to be drinking window that should only get better. Having said all that, I agree with you about the 2008: an underrated wine in many ways. So precise. And although we double, double decanted, it was still quite youthful and closed. However, the precision and brightness paired very well with that zesty terrine we had for the starter. I was - as you - a bit less compelled by the 2012 (although still very very good!), but chalked it up to sheer Kindermort (or baby killing). It was to some extent at this stage more a glass of acidity and tannin, as Ken Brown remarked .

I really enjoyed the 1995 Montrose especially for the pairing, but I think the 2008 is a superior wine for the long haul.

What can one say about 2010? Amazing wine. Such vivacity tied with substance. As you wrote, weightlessness and intensity. Perhaps overall my very favorite of the evening (at least for future drinking, by the time I will be 60 for an early drinking window), but the 2009 comes close. Why? It had such sumptuous juiciness, it was so damn endearing. The acidity was there, as well. Just a delicious lip smacking wine with sophistication of course. And, for me, a better version of the 2003, as the 2009 had more blue fruit coolness by comparison. But as far as 2003s go, Montrose may have just the best wine in that vintage, outside Latour (?).

Agree with you on the 2005. It is really looking amazing, if somewhat closed but indeed "bold" and full of fantastic elements that just need another five years to start coming together fully.

I really liked the 1976! It was as you described Kevin. Some bottle variation, as I think our table had a less optimal bottle, but it was still yummy. Alas, my pour on the 1970 was small. I was talking too much when servers came around and my glass was not there! But when I was tasting from bottles, before dinner, the wine was quite perfumed and savory on the palate. One of the four bottles was gone completely, like a bunch of old mushrooms which we of course discarded.

As for the 1980s, I was most charmed by the softness and elegance of the 1985. The 1986 showed more power, but to drink, I preferred the 1985. The 1982s were a bit problematic. One of the three mags was clearly corked. The other one was borderline, which we decided to pour, but thankfully we had a clean bottle which was good but not great shakes. The only other time I had a 1982 was at the home of Bernard Burtschy from a regular bottle, and it was similar in profile to the good bottle we had at the dinner.

All in all loads of fun, and showing, as Kevin wrote, the glacial pace of maturity of Montrose. And you know, I rather like that. When you spend good money on high quality Bordeaux, you want the wine to last a looooooong time. Montrose does.

And indeed, many thanks to the restaurant for a fine showing of the cuisine, service and glasses. It was a tall order and they more than lived up to it. And, of course, to Chateau Montrose for supplying the wines.

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