Château Duhart-Milon 2018
Château Duhart-Milon is the only Fourth Growth property in the Pauillac AOC. It is an estate that lovers of the First Growth, Château Lafite Rothschild, should know. Not only is it a mere 7-minute drive away from Château Lafite Rothschild, but the two are considered sister properties with the same winemaking team. Like Lafite, the estate is owned by part of the portfolio of Domains de Barons de Rothschild. Château Duhart-Milon is home to some truly phenomenal terroir of gravel, limestone, and clay. When asked why he purchased the property, the Baron put it very plainly: “It would have been nonsense to not acquire such a great neighboring vineyard.”
Château Duhart-Milon has a very interesting and circuitous history. The property was initially the Second Wine for Lafite Rothschild when the Marquis de Alexandre Segur, or “The Wine Prince,” was running Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Calon Segur. The Marquis saw the potential of Château Duhart-Milon, and in the 19th Century, the wines were already held in great esteem. It was considered a cru vineyard in the making. Château Duhart-Milon received part of its name from Sir Duhart, who was rumored to have been a pirate and gunrunner for King Louix XV. When he was done pillaging the high seas, he decided to retire in Pauillac in a little dwelling that was near the port. The dwelling was called the, “pirate’s house,” and was eventually torn down in the 1950s. Yet the building’s legacy still lives on – it’s on the label for the grand vin of Château Duhart-Milon.
Château Duhart-Milon was classified as a Fourth Growth in 1855, and then it was owned by the Castéja family. The Castéja family was very well known throughout Bordeaux, and they currently oversee the illustrious Château Trotte Vielle. Right before World War II, disaster seemed to stalk Château Duhart-Milon. Frosts ravaged its vineyards, it changed hands at least five times during the 1950s and 1960s, and out of the massive 110 hectares of land, only 17 hectares were left planted with vines by the time Baron Eric de Rothschild acquired the estate. The Rothschilds almost doubled the size of the vineyards at the property, restoring the Fourth Growth to its former glory.
Château Duhart-Milon is a rare estate, because it is one of the few properties in Pauillac without an actual château. Instead, it hosts vat rooms, barrel storage, and of course the stars of the show – the vines. The vineyards are planted with 76 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the vines are about 30 years old on average. Like its sister estate, Lafite, the barrels are all made on property by the same cooperage. Charles Chevalier is the director of winemaking, and each plot at Château Duhart-Milon is isolated and judged separately based on quality. The grapes are harvested and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The wines of Château Duhart-Milon are powerful, like many Pauillacs. They require a bit of time for their aromas to unfold and younger vintages can be decanted if need be.
"The 2018 Duhart-Milon was helped by light rain on August 28 and September 5 that nudged ripening back on track after a period of drought. It has a very well-defined bouquet of blackberry, bilberry, oyster shells and tobacco, focused and intense. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, but there is real backbone and a wonderful saline finish. Lovely build here, and certainly more substantial than the previous vintage. This is a Duhart-Milon back on form." - Neal Martin, vinous.com, (November, 2019), Ratings: 92-94, Drink: 2024-2045
"The 2018 Duhart-Milon is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, with the Cabernet Sauvignon harvested September 25 to October 4 and the Merlot harvested September 17-25, and it has 14% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with exuberant notes of Black Forest cake, plum preserves and crème de cassis with hints of spice cake, woodsmoke, potpourri and eucalyptus. Full-bodied, rich and laden with layers of black fruit preserves and spices, it has a velvety texture and just enough freshness, finishing long. Very impressive—the densest, most opulent Duhart I have tasted!" - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Ratings: 93-95
"I was slightly disappointed in the 2018 Château Duhart-Milon, and while it's certainly a beautiful wine, it's not in the same league as the 2009, as I thought when tasting it from barrel. Nevertheless, it has impressive notes of red and black currants, new leather, tobacco leaf, and lead pencil shavings to go with a medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, elegant style on the palate. It has some up-front appeal, as the tannins are ripe and polished, yet it's going to improve over the coming 4-6 years or so and should hold nicely for 20 years or more." Jeb Dunnuck, 2018 Bordeaux From The Bottle (3/11/2021) Rating: 93