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The result of rigorous selection at each stage of production, in both the vineyard and the winery, this great, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon wine is typical of the Saint-Estèphe appellation. Structured and tannic but with all the elegance and refinement of a Grand Cru Classé, with time it develops a delicate and complex bouquet.
The wines have considerable ageing potential and are exceptionally long-lived. Certain vintages (1921, 1929, 1982, 1990, 2009, 2016) are considered legendary.
Matured for 18 months in 60% new oak barrels, the premium wine accounts on average for 55% of the estate’s total production.
The 95-hectare vineyard in one single block, extremely unusual in the Medoc, is located on a very well exposed gravelly land, by the Gironde. The vineyard hence overlooks the estuary. The proximity to this vast body of water locally called “river” has a very smoothing climatic impact on the vineyard. The river and its tide mitigate and moderate the climate’s rigor: by mollifying the frost and refreshing blazing summer heat.
60 % of new french oak barrels, supplied by several carefully- selected coopers are used in Montrose, and 40 % in one year old barrels. The average ageing period is 16 to 18 months.
For our second wine, DAME DE MONTROSE, the proportion of new french oak barrels reaches about 15 to 20 %. The average ageing is 12 months; so begins a long process of racking rhythm.
This is a very natural process of slow wine decanting, to isolate the fine particles still present in the wine. All the wines are finely racked every 3 months, a very traditional method.
The wine is moved from one barrel to the other by gravity. Once the barrel’s bottom is reached, the workers carefully view, with a candle, the lees coming off the clear part of the wine. The fining is made traditionally, in barrels, with fresh egg whites, in order to refine the wine and to soften the tannins.
If the wine producers from different regions were asked to name the best vintages from their winemaking history, the most would name 1947 as one of the great ones. If we then compared them together there would be most likely only one vintage that the most if not every producer had named on list – 1947.
The vintage 1947 was a magical vintage. It remains in the history as one of the only vintages that all well-established quality wine regions in the world were blessed with superb weather conditions. The heat waves were experienced all around the world and for instance the whole Europe was bating under scorching sun and experiencing a heat wave during the summer. This resulted very concentrated and highly ripe grapes. The producers had challenges to handle the very ripe grapes with high sugar levels as there was a constant risk of bacterial contamination in less hygenic cellars that had no artifical cooling systems. As there was no technology to use, many invoked on huge blocks of ice to cool the room temperautre down and even putting ice in their fermentation tanks.
This vintage has proven to yield very long lasting wines from all around the world. The wines are marked with sweet and ripe fruit character and warming alcohol. Due to the poorly hygenic winemaking facilities, many of the wines show volatile characters. Some might find this as a fault, but for many mature wine lovers this feature is even a preferred character. However, when buying the wines from this vintage, one should be aware that there is high level of bottle variations and the risk of having highly volatile wines is remarkably high.
This year produced some of the greatest wines ever made in Bordeaux. The Right Bank was the most succesful. Château Cheval Blanc and Pétrus produced not only the best wines of the vintage but the best wines of the wineries from all times. The Left Bank did also well, but was not at the level of the Right Bank. Château Margaux represents one of the best wines from Left Bank. White dry Bordeauxs are outstanding quality as well as Sauternes which produced very intense and lusciously sweet wines with less botrytised character.
Where the 1945 represents sophistication, nuance and classic character, the 1947 is all about richness, robustness and succulence. Spring was delayed that year, which meant a late start to the growing season. Summer warmed up toward the autumn and the abundant sunshine ripened the grapes very quickly. Daytime temperatures ranged between 35-38° C. The crop was finally harvested in nearly tropical conditions, when a thunderstorm ravaged Bordeaux on 19-20 September.
Fortunately a large percentage of the grapes had already been harvested. The grapes were unusually hot during picking and volatile acids caused problems for many vineyards during fermentation. The end result was an absolutely extraordinary vintage, which turned out to be magnificent, particularly on the right bank and in Sauternes. Even young, these reds were exceptionally drinkable. Their life-cycle, on the other hand, has been surprisingly varied. The Pomerol and Saint-Émilion wines have proven superior to Médocs and Graves. The supreme wine of this vintage is most certainly the Château Cheval Blanc, which, in terms of mouthfeel, is perhaps the greatest wine of the entire 20th century. Why the Cheval Blanc was such an unparalleled success that year is something of a mystery. Unlike what happened to so many others, the Cheval Blanc didn’t suffer from excess volatile acids.
Everything from vineyard microclimate to production have been offered as explanations. Because the weather was unusually warm, there were no damp morning mists at the vineyards, which restricted the conditions conducive to the formation of natural yeasts that increase volatility. The heat also killed natural yeasts and the quantity was generally less than normal. Fermentation was done in small concrete tanks, which provided effective insulation against the outside heat and kept temperatures sufficiently low, thus preventing the formation of volatile acids. Another very interesting aspect of the Cheval Blanc’s production was its 5-10-year maturation in old barrels; this was due to the fact that new oak barrels were not available following the depression and war years. In all its glory, the 1947 Cheval Blanc caricatures modern winemaking as an incredible example of the pinnacles that can be reached with no help from technology. In addition to the Cheval, the Pétrus and Lafleur are vintage gems.