Chateau Duhart-Milon Moulin de Duhart 1999
Moulin de Duhart, Château Duhart-Milon's second wine, is selected from vats of the "Grand Vin". In general, the grapes are from the youngest part of the vineyard. Moulin de Duhart has several characteristics similar to the fine wine, but with a lesser potential for ageing as its ageing in barrels is much shorter. It must be consumed younger than its more robust counterpart. The vineyard covers 50 hectares and is planted with the classical cépages of Médoc: Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Cabernet Franc (20%), Merlot (20%) and a small amount of "Petit Verdot". This cépage has always been traditionally planted at Duhart-Milon and a certain excess of it in the pre-war vintages might explain their slightly flinty hardiness.
The Moulin de Duhart 1999 has a pleasant suppleness that was noticeable at a young age. It is a long and balanced wine, with subtle tannins and a ruby color. It has an expressive fruity aroma, both in taste and smell.
In the early 18th century, Pauillac began widespread grape cultivation at the urging of the Lafite lords. The Milon wines served as additional income for Lafite’s master, and became Château Lafite’s second wine. The 1855 classification recognized the quality of Duhart-Milon’s soil by ranking it as the only 4th growth wine in Pauillac. Between 1830 and 1840, the Castéja family was left an inheritance by both Mandavy and the Duhart widow (35 acres). The family thus possessed a 99 acre vineyard that was named Duhart- Milon. The property changed ownership many times over the years and suffered a decline in the quality of its’ wines. The property was named after the Sieur of Duhart, gun-runner to Louis XIV, who originally owned the property, and from the name of the little hamlet of Milon which separates the Duhart-Milon vineyard from Château Lafite.
In 1962, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) acquired the property from the Castéja family. Since the acquisition by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) the vineyards have been totally overhauled and the chais renovated. A finishing touch to a remarkable 40 year effort to reclaim the Médoc 4th growth wine ranking for Château Duhart-Milon.
The leader on the Left Bank in number of first growth classified producers within its boundaries, Pauillac has more than any of the other appellations, at three of the five. Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild border St. Estephe on its northern end and Chateau Latour is at Pauillac’s southern end, bordering St. Julien.
While the first growths are certainly some of the better producers of the Left Bank, today they often compete with some of the “lower ranked” producers (second, third, fourth, fifth growth) in quality and value. The Left Bank of Bordeaux subscribes to an arguably outdated method of classification that goes back to 1855. The finest chateaux in that year were judged on the basis of reputation and trading price; changes in rank since then have been miniscule at best. Today producers such as Chateau Pontet-Canet, Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste, Chateau Lynch-Bages, among others (all fifth growth) offer some of the most outstanding wines in all of Bordeaux.
Defining characteristics of fine wines from Pauillac (i.e. Cabernet-based Bordeaux Blends) include inky and juicy blackcurrant, cedar or cigar box and plush or chalky tannins.
Layers of gravel in the Pauillac region are key to its wines’ character and quality. The layers offer excellent drainage in the relatively flat topography of the region allowing water to run off into “jalles” or streams, which subsequently flow off into the Gironde.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines, modeled after the Right Bank, are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.