Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac

Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac

This fourth growth Pauillac property neighbours first growth Lafite-Rothschild, and is in fact part of the Barons de Rothschild portfolio, which also includes other Bordeaux properties like l'Évangile and Rieussec, and projects farther afield such as Los Vascos in Chile, Caro in Argentina, and a new project in Penglai, China.

The estate was just known as Milon before it became the retirement residence of a man named Duhart, who was supposedly a pirate under Louis XV's reign. Indeed, the 'pirate's house' stood in the grounds until the 1950s and is the inspiration for the estate's wine labels. Duhart-Milon subsequently spent a long time in the Castéja family, before they had to sell it in 1937, after which is passed through five owners (and the horrendous 1956 frost) in just 25 years. The resultant decline in quality was stemmed only in 1962, when the property was acquired by the Rothschilds.

The family replanted the vineyards and bought good plots of nearby vines, and the result is now 76 hectares with an average age of 30 years, which are south-west and further inland than Lafite-Rotschild, meaning the grapes tend to ripen a week later. The Rothschilds have also rebuilt the cellar and winery, and the results of these renovations have really made their mark, especially since the late 1980s.

The property benefits from the same team as Lafite, including Eric de Rothschild and his dynamic and experienced wine manager Charles Chevallier, whose increased attention in the vineyard and cellar has brought the wine up from its firm austerity to a new level of quality. Climate change has also helped, and the 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages in particular are outstanding.

The wine is a blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot, which spends 18 months in barrels made at the domaine's own cooperage, 50-60% of which are renewed each vintage. Duhart-Milon will benefit from ageing for between 12 and 25 years.

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