"...a seriously impressive wine in its own right and gives a hint of the incredible quality found in the grand vin" - Jeb Dunnuck
"...the 2016 La Dame is a stellar wine." - Antonio Galloni
With a slew of 100-point scores for recent vintages of Château Montrose's grand vin (including 2016, '19, and '20) this deuxième cru classé estate in Saint-Estèphe has set a new bar for the commune in recent years. During en primeur, we rarely have time to focus on the second wine, La Dame de Montrose, so our offer of this parcel of the excellent 2016 vintage gives us a good opportunity to look at how second wines from top-performing estates can be great buys. Immediately available in bond at just £320 per dozen and just coming into its drinking window, this can be in your cellar to enjoy at Christmas.
Second wines have changed immeasurably over the last two decades. Traditionally, producing a deuxième vin was a key part of making a top claret. It allowed the estate to be super-selective, giving an outlet for fruit that lesser estates might kill for, but which did not make the grade for a grand vin.
The system is as important today as ever, but, with the growth of precision viticulture and rising land and wine prices, the game has changed. The fruit from the great estates is simply too precious and expensive to treat with anything other than the same skill and resources as the first wine.
We have noticed a subtle change in how the wines are described by the châteaux themselves. It is now usual to be told: "We don't think of this as a second wine, but a wine in its own right". Admittedly, there is a distinction to be made with deuxièmes which come from their own dedicated vineyards (like Alter Ego) but there is a pervasive sense that these wines have gone up in the world.
In recent vintages, we have found seconds like La Dame de Montrose, Alter Ego de Palmer, Pavillon de Margaux, and Les Pagodes de Cos almost as impressive as their first wines, with a similar luxurious texture on the palate, if not the same exceptional depth and concentration. Usually, with a higher proportion of Merlot, the deuxièmes are more open and seductive tasted from barrel. First wines usually have higher IPT (tannin) levels and more new oak ageing, both of which will lock up their fruit aromas and flavours for several years.
With modern vinification and tannin management, the drinking window for a First Growth or 'super-second' begins usually at a minimum of ten years, compared to around five for their second wines, making recent vintages accessible in a far shorter time.
Understanding the role of second wines is important for a proper perspective on how the top châteaux perform in each vintage. The relationship between the first and second wine can vary from year to year. In the best years, very little second wine may be made. In more challenging growing seasons, the best estates will throttle down their production drastically, to ensure that what they do bottle as grand vin is of the highest possible quality. This can result in brilliant second wines being produced in such years.
In 2016, just 36% of Montrose's harvest went into the grand vin and 64% into La Dame. As in Burgundy, scores for second wines are always somewhat relative to the primary offering from the estate and reflect attributes like age-worthiness and intensity. We think the actual experience of enjoying them can be closer to the grands vins than the scores sometimes suggest.
With the market price for Montrose 2016 over five times the price at around £1800 per dozen, this parcel of 2016 La Dame is great value at only £320 per dozen, and it captures the linear, muscular style the estate is prized for.
Please simply email us if you would like to order.
Offered in bond, immediately available.