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Château Duhart-Milon’s grand vin is often described as a model of the Pauillac appellation. The broker Guillaume Lawton noted as early as 1815 that “it is very robust, with a fine colour, and quite pronounced sappiness” (he describes the “sappiness” of the Médoc’s premiers crus as “something like the odour given off by finest sealing wax when it is burned”).
In the early 18th century, the Pauillac district began widespread grape cultivation at the urging of the owners of Lafite. The Milon wines served as additional income for Lafite’s master, and became Château Lafite’s second wine. So early on, the soil was acknowledged as being of particularly high quality. Lafite’s owner at that time was the Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, whom Louis XV referred to as “The Wine Prince.”
In 1815, the courtier Guillaume Lawton was already talking about Mandavy-Milon from the Milon hills as a fourth growth Pauillac wine in the making. Between 1830 and 1840, the Castéja family was left an inheritance by both Mandavy and the Duhart widow (14 hectares). The family thus possessed a 40-hectare vineyard that was named Duhart-Milon. The oral tradition of the Castéja family presents “Sir Duhart” as a pirate of Louis XV settled at Pauillac for retirement. The “pirate’s house” on the Pauillac port existed up to the 1950’s, and inspired the label for the Duhart-Milon wines.
The 1855 classification recognized Duhart-Milon soil’s quality by ranking it as the only 4th growth wine in Pauillac. The Castéja family remained in possession of the estate during the second half of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. Château Duhart-Milon was then one of largest Pauillac estates with around 50 hectares.
In 1937, the result of successive inheritances led to the sale of the estate. The property went through five different owners in just 25 years, and the splitting up of the vineyards caused a speedy decline, which was only made worse by frost in 1956. The quality of the Château’s wines was also declining until the Rothschild family purchased the property in 1962. Duhart-Milon then included 110 hectares, of which only 17 hectares were vineyards. Major construction projects were then brought into the vineyards: draining, uprooting and replanting, the purchase of adjacent plots, and reintegrating the vineyards by trading plots. New cellar and tank rooms were installed in Pauillac.
Today, the new vines are all mature, and the renovation of the cellar adds a finishing touch to a remarkable 40-year effort that reclaimed the Médoc 4th growth wine ranking for Château Duhart-Milon. The promises of the 1990, 1995, 1996 and 2000 vintages have been confirmed and the quality recovered expresses itself in the uniform quality of the vintages at the highest level. This can bee seen in the remarkable potential of all the vintages since 2003. If the best vintages had to be named, then 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 were remarkable successes that have received critical acclaim and whose prices are moving strongly upwards.