The new classification for Saint-Émilion was announced on Friday September 7th by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). There were four wines promoted to the top level — Premier Grand Cru Classé – three of which are made by Stéphane Derenoncourt: Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Canon la Gaffelière and La Mondotte. As a result of this re-classification, Stéphane is responsible for seven out of the eighteen Premier Grand Cru Classé wines. This impressive achievement underscores why many – including we at Montesquieu Wines – believe that no one knows the Right Bank quite like Stéphane.
One of Stéphane’s most famous wines, La Mondotte, skipped the Grand Cru Classé category entirely, jumping from AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru to Premier Grand Cru Classé, which is a rare feat. For those familiar with the famous garagiste wines such as La Mondotte and Valandraud (also promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé), these promotions were well-deserved and not entirely unexpected. La Mondotte has been considered among the greatest Bordeaux chateaux for years, a collector’s gem and fetching prices that one would expect from the top level. View Full Post
September 6, 2012, Yountville, CA – Confronted with a water crisis in drought-stricken Ethiopia, renowned winemakers are responding with a miracle of their own making:turning wine to water.
Montesquieu Winery has partnered with Doc Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, and winemakers Bob Levy and Martha McClellan to turn several hundred magnums of Napa Valley Meritage into clean water for over 12,000 people in Ethiopia’s Dale region. And now, Montesquieu and Hendley have launched a project with famous enologist Michel Rolland that allows wine lovers to help tens of thousands more, simply by enjoying great wine. View Full Post
Syrah is not known as a shy varietal. It is known for its strength, thick skin, and the ability to thrive almost anywhere, and as such is commonly referred to as the “growers varietal”. With this in mind, it is not surprising that Syrah has become increasingly popular, and is now estimated to be the seventh most widely planted varietal in the world.
Part of Syrah being adaptable to grow most anywhere yields the characteristic of producing wines that vary widely according to the climate, terroir and viticultural practices of the particular vineyard. It has been said that the varietal has experienced an “identity crisis” amongst consumers because of this wide variation, plus the unfortunate flooding of the market with generic Syrah with little character.
Additionally when Syrah in the United States was beginning to take off, many American critics were awarding their highest scores to very powerfully extracted wines, including Australian Shiraz with this over-the-top profile that was popular at the time. Many American Syrah producers, seeking approval of the critics, emulated this jammy, intense style.
Many feel what happened was the loss of character at higher ripeness levels which became more important than sense of place, or distinctiveness. Over time, with growers gaining more and more experience with various vineyard locations and climates, we have seen an emerging trend in the industry toward cool-climate Syrah. View Full Post
Stéphane Derenoncourt immersed in tasting Cheval Blanc
Many believe that accomplished wine tasters are a rare breed with special abilities. However, wine tasting involves skills that contrary to popular belief are not difficult to master. Follow these five steps and in no time you will be tasting wine like a confident professional.
Before we get started it is important to point out that each experience varies as everyone’s taste buds are different—the array, type and how many you have. Thresholds and tolerances differ regarding sweetness, acidity, tannins and such, as well as our perceptions of what we are sensing based on our previous experiences and preferences.
A successful wine tasting provides the opportunity to focus on the wines at hand, which in other settings are often consumed quickly with many distractions. Pay close attention, as every wine tells a different story. Each experience is a building block, a sensory experience that will add to your collective foundation, giving depth and breadth to your journey. This is the joy of tasting wine! View Full Post
Stéphane Derenoncourt and Montesquieu CEO Fonda Hopkins, Ink Grade
Today marked the beginning of the 16th Annual Premiere Napa Valley Auction, which is one of the most exciting events of the year in Napa, where the most influential members of the wine industry from all over the country and the globe—including vintners, retailers, brokers, distributors, media and restaurant owners—gather to experience the very best and most innovative wines from our country’s leading appellation. It is a whirlwind weekend of events, starting with seminars and tastings, and culminating in the grand finale—a barrel tasting and live auction on Saturday February 25 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.
In previous years, we have been fortunate to be one of the auction’s most active bidders—however this year is special. We are not only attending the seminars, tastings and auction, but unveiling our first-ever lot—A Tale of Two Terroirs by Stéphane Derenoncourt—5 cases of 2010 Derenoncourt California Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. View Full Post
Anyone who knows much about winemaking knows that the romantic stereotype of life in the vines is just that – a stereotype. Winemaking can be romantic, of course; but it can also be risky and fraught with uncertainty. After all, Mother Nature has a long history of being a fickle master.
Consider Pierre Bernault, owner of an ancient chateau and plot of vines in Montagne Saint Emilion where he and Stéphane Derenoncourt craft Montesquieu Winery’s Moulin du Paradis blend: “You can lose an entire year’s income by surprise in the course of three weeks because of weather,” says Pierre. “But I like to take risks.” View Full Post
It’s always a pleasure to spend time in Napa. But when you’re there to finalize the details of a special project with two people as passionate and impressive as CNN Hero Doc Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, and renowned winemaker Michel Rolland, as we were recently, well it’s all that much more exciting. We are thrilled to announce our joint project—one that pulls together all of our resources and passions to provide permanent sources of clean water for Dale, a community in Ethiopia that is in desperate need (see the press release here).
6 out of every 10 people in Dale lack access to clean water, resulting in death due to waterborne diseases. Lack of clean water is actually the number one killer of children worldwide—more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. It is terribly tragic, but the good news is that there is something we can all do about it! View Full Post
In the wine world this time of year there are plenty of lists featuring resolutions, reflections looking back, predictions looking forward and the like. Join us as we keep an eye on the following trends, which we at Montesquieu Winery feel will be especially interesting to watch in 2012.
China will continue to grow and make headlines.In 2011 China surpassed the UK in becoming the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world by volume. As wine drinkers’ tastes migrate and expand, new markets and opportunities will continue to emerge which will surely result in the popularity of a wider variety of wines and the various regions and countries they hail from. Recent studies show an increase in the number of women wine drinkers in China and that they are drinking more white wines, with white Burgundies reportedly in hot demand. View Full Post
On the shores of Lake Como at the historical five-star hotel Villa d’ Este, the third annual World Wine Symposium (WWS) took place in November — and we at Montesquieu Winery were thrilled to participate. The WWS, also known as the “Davos of Wine”, was created by François Mauss, president and founder of the prestigious European Grand Jury wine tasting organization.
Several years ago, François partnered with some of the world’s most famous winemakers – Aubert de Villaine, Angelo Gaja, Pablo Alvarez (Vega Sicilia), and Alain Vauthier (Ausone) – to bring together the leading players in the wine industry from all over the globe for several days of sharing, learning and networking.
It is their belief that wine is not simply a commercial commodity, but rather a product with unique historical and cultural dimensions that must be protected and defended. This concept is paramount to these famous producers— for example, Villaine is leading a campaign to add the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits, along with their system of climats (specific vineyard sites), to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites. View Full Post
Red Hills Lake County November 4, 2011 photo by Hélène Mingot
A Challenging Year Bears Us Brilliant Fruit
Napa and Sonoma
No two harvests are exactly alike—each year brings its own unique mixture of variables to the table work with. As the years pass, we at Montesquieu Wines understand more and more just how fortunate we are to have a team with so much experience to draw from. This year is no exception, as growers and vintners around the world were on their toes with an especially challenging growing season! View Full Post
At Montesquieu, we bring you the finest hand-crafted wines from the best boutique vineyards in the world. We believe that winemaking is an art. Through every wine we source for our clients, we celebrate the diversity, character and tradition encompassed within each bottle - the true spirit of wine.