Pauillac - Charles Chevallier
Château Duhart-Milon, previously also Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild, is a winery in the Pauillac appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. The wine produced here was classified as one of ten Quatrièmes Crus Classés (Fourth Growths) in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
In the early 18th century, the Pauillac district began widespread grape cultivation at the urging of the owners of Lafite. The Milon wines served as additional income for Lafite’s master, and became Château Lafite’s second wine. So early on, the soil was acknowledged as being of particularly high quality. Lafite’s owner at that time was the Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, whom Louis XV referred to as “The Wine Prince.”
In 1815, the broker Guillaume Lawton was already talking about Mandavy-Milon from the Milon hills as a fourth growth Pauillac wine in the making. Between 1830 and 1840, the Castéja family was left an inheritance by both Mandavy and the Duhart widow (14 hectares). The family thus possessed a 40-hectare vineyard that was named Duhart-Milon. The oral tradition is that “Sieur Duhart” was the name of a privateer under Louis XV who settled in Pauillac on his retirement. The privateer’s house in the port of Pauillac existed up to the 1950’s, and inspired the label for the Duhart-Milon wines.
The 1855 classification recognized the quality of Duhart-Milon’s terroir by ranking it as the only 4th growth wine in Pauillac. The Castéja family remained in possession of the estate during the second half of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. Château Duhart-Milon was then one of largest Pauillac estates with around 50 hectares.
In 1937, the result of successive inheritances led to the sale of the estate. The property went through five different owners in just 25 years, and the splitting up of the vineyards caused a speedy decline, which was only made worse by the severe frost of 1956. The quality of the Château’s wines declined considerably until the Rothschild family purchased the property in 1962. Duhart-Milon then consisted of 110 hectares, of which only 17 hectares were vines. Major construction projects were then undertaken in the vineyard: draining, uprooting and replanting, the purchase of adjacent plots, and reintegrating the vineyard by trading plots. New cellar and vat rooms were installed in Pauillac.
From 1973 to 2001 the vineyard increased from 42 ha to 71 ha. Today, the new vines are all mature, and the renovation of the cellar adds a finishing touch to a remarkable 40-year effort that has restored Château Duhart-Milon to its Médoc 4th growth rank. The promise of the 1990, 1995, 1996 and 2000 vintages has already been confirmed and the renewed quality is expressed in the consistency of the vintages at the highest level. This can be seen in the remarkable potential of all the vintages since 2003.
The Château has 70 hectares planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Château produces a second wine under the label Moulin de Duhart. It is managed by Charles Chevallier, general manager at Château Lafite Rothschild.
Château Duhart-Milon’s grand vin is often described as a model of the Pauillac appellation. The broker Guillaume Lawton noted as early as 1815 that “it is very robust, with a fine colour, and quite pronounced sappiness” (he describes the “sappiness” of the Médoc’s premiers crus as “something like the odour given off by finest sealing wax when it is burned”).
Château Duhart-Milon’s second wine is selected on the same basis as the “Grand Vin”. In general, the grapes are from the younger plots in the vineyard. Moulin de Duhart has several characteristics similar to the grand vin, but with less potential for ageing as its barrel ageing period is shorter. It should be consumed younger than its more robust counterpart. The origin of the name comes from the former presence of a windmill on the Carruades plateau, next to the Duhart-Milon vineyard.